Treasury 'uses Trump to bury bad pension news'

Treasury 'uses Trump to bury bad pension news'

The government has formally announced that the ban on pension cold calling will not happen anytime soon, and that it is launching a consultation on the matter instead.

As FTAdviser previously reported, the government was required to either introduce the ban by the end of June, or explain to parliament why this had not happened.

Yesterday (12 July), the economic secretary to the Treasury and minister for the City, John Glen, delivered a statement to parliament stating due to the “complexity” of the issue, the government had failed to meet the deadline.

Instead he announced a “consultation” on the best method to deliver the ban.

Mr Glen said: “Pensions cold calling is an important and complex issue. Pensions scams can have devastating consequences and cold calling is the most common method used to initiate pensions scams, so the government has taken the time to ensure the ban works for consumers.

"The government will imminently publish a consultation seeking views on a set of draft regulations to ban pensions cold calling.

"Once we have considered all responses to the consultation, in the Autumn we intend to lay regulations under the affirmative procedure and subject to parliamentary approval bring the regulations into force as soon as possible thereafter.”

Sir Steve Webb (pictured), the former pensions minister who is now head of policy at Royal London, said the government had chosen to “sneak” the statement out on a day when the media and political world was focused on the government’s Brexit White Paper and the visit to the UK of US president Donald Trump.

Sir Steve said: "The Treasury has chosen a good day to bury bad news. Whilst everyone’s eyes were focused on the Brexit White Paper and the visit of the US president, they decided to admit officially that the cold-calling ban is going to be further delayed.

"Nobody doubts that if this issue was a real priority for the government a ban would already be in place right now."

He added: "The repeated delays mean yet more innocent people will be scammed out of their life savings by crooks who ring them up out of the blue with persuasive offers and pressure sales techniques.  

"It is understandable that the government is embarrassed by this delay, but now they need to pull out all the stops to get this legislation through and in force.”

As FTAdviser has previously reported, an amendment was introduced to the Financial Claims and Guidance Act 2018 to ban pension cold calls, but as the deadline of the end of June loomed, there was confusion around whether the Treasury or the Department for Work and Pensions was responsible for delivering the ban.

Stephen Lloyd, the Liberal Democrat spokesman for Work and Pensions, said at the time: “This is not good enough. This Conservative government is frankly not governing at all, and instead is focusing its energies in parliament acting as a circular flying squad over the details of Brexit.