Rules which will ban cold-callers who try to scam people out of their pension savings have been delayed, with HM Treasury planning on presenting them to Parliament this autumn.
In March, the 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.
Since Parliament doesn’t sit on Fridays, the government has missed the deadline.
A spokesperson of the Treasury said today (29 June): "We’re committed to introducing a ban on pensions cold calling as quickly as possible.
“Following debates in parliament, and having considered evidence from the industry, we will launch a short consultation on the draft legislation to ensure it is as effective and robust as possible. We intend to lay the required regulations before Parliament this autumn.”
FTAdviser reported yesterday (28 June) the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Treasury are ‘passing the buck’ in regards to which governmental figure is in charge of introducing the cold calling ban new rules –the economic secretary John Glen is now in charge of this.
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.
Former pensions minister Baroness Ros Altmann argued that this delay is “really disappointing”.
She said: “The need for a ban is widely recognised. The sooner cold-calling for pensions is outlawed, the sooner people will be better protected against being scammed and losing their life savings.
“So many people have already suffered from such pension frauds - and they almost all start with a cold-call.
“Having worked so hard in the Lords stages of the Bill to get a proper ban on pensions cold-calling, only to then see the measures watered down significantly, it is really disappointing that even these weaker protections will not be put in place on time.
“I urge the Government to ensure these regulations are ready and enacted very quickly.”
According to Ian Browne, pensions expert at Old Mutual Wealth, this delay “is unfortunately another action that undermines the public’s trust in pensions”.
He said: “The main benefit of any such ban is really that it raises awareness with people that they should not engage with this kind of activity.
“In reality it is unlikely to stop the scammers from trying to access people’s hard-earned life savings. Action is needed rather than yet another consultation.”
Darren Cooke, chartered financial planner at Red Circle Financial Planning, who pushed for the ban to be brought in, argued that it is sad that “it seems after the initial celebration back in November 2016 when Philip Hammond announced in the autumn statement that they would bring in this ban it has been stuck in the Whitehall quagmire”.