DWP passes the buck on cold calling ban

DWP passes the buck on cold calling ban

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and HM Treasury are ‘passing the buck’ in regards to which governmental figure is in charge of introducing the cold calling ban new rules.

In March, HM Treasury introduced an amendment to the Financial Claims and Guidance Act 2018 that stated regulations underpinning the ban on pension-related cold calls should be made by the secretary of state before the end of June this year.

If the power is not exercised by the end of the month, the government official in charge must explain to parliament why not by the end of July.

At the time, a Treasury representative told FTAdviser that Esther McVey, secretary of state for Work & Pensions, would be responsible for this.

With the deadline approaching, government officials are now saying that John Glen, economic secretary, is in charge of introducing the new rules which will ban cold-callers who try to scam people out of their pension savings.

A Treasury representative told FTAdviser today (28 June) that the Bill states that “references to the secretary of state are to be read as references to the secretary of state or the Treasury”.

So, it will be John Glen who will fail the June deadline, as the Bill says that cold calling ban regulations “may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament”.

The next sitting of the House of Parliament is on Monday, and today’s agenda doesn’t include any reference to the ban.

The Treasury has been approached for comment.

FTAdviser reported last week that it has been difficult to get the Parliamentary time necessary to table a debate in the House of Commons, which is needed to introduce the new legislation.

The government's plan to introduce a ban on cold-callers, which will include emails and texts, was announced in August.

It will be enforced by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which recently received new powers to fine bosses of companies which plague people with unsolicited cold calls by as much as £500,000.

Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell, argued that “the lack of clarity over which government department ‘owns’ the cold-calling ban has clearly not helped in getting the legislation over the line”.

He said: “It will be hugely disappointing if this critical consumer protection measure is delayed yet again – every day it is not in place savers are a little less protected from pension scammers.

“Hopefully this is simply an administrative problem rather than anything more sinister, and the ban will be in place shortly.”