Pensions 

Cold calling ban approved by committee

Cold calling ban approved by committee

Legislation underpinning the government's cold calling ban to stop pension scams has been approved by the Delegated Legislation committee and will be voted on in Parliament on Monday, meaning it could soon pass into law.

The ban 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.

Plans to ban cold calling, which will include emails and texts, were announced in August 2017.

The government was originally supposed to introduce the ban by the end of June, but it later admitted it had missed its deadline and instead ran a consultation on the matter in the summer.

In April the Labour party had tried to amend the bill as it was passing through Parliament, in a bid to strengthen the rules and achieve tougher sanctions.

John Glen, economic secretary, said on Wednesday (December 12) at the Delegated Legislation committee the government doesn’t consider this ban to be "job done".

He said: "We understand that scammers are skilled at adapting to ​circumstances and that scams are constantly evolving. As such, we will continue our efforts to understand and take action on future scams."

Mr Glen said Project Bloom, a taskforce established in 2012 and currently led by The Pensions Regulator (TPR),  would also continue its work to tackle scams and identify emerging threats.

"In addition, the government are committed to limiting the statutory right to transfer, to help prevent funds transferring from occupational pension schemes into fraudulent ones," he noted.

It emerged last week that the number of people seeking information about pension scams had risen five-fold since the launch of a joint campaign by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and TPR.

David Hickson, of the Fair Telecoms Campaign, who had previously called into question the effectiveness of the ban, said the approval of the legislation concluded a specific process begun in the House of Lords more than 12 months ago during consideration of what was now the Financial Guidance and Claims Act 2018.

He said: "It is however claimed to be the long-delayed fulfilment of a government undertaking.

"The Fair Telecoms Campaign has been repeatedly calling for effective action to achieve the declared aim, rather than a series of meaningless tweaks to a regime that has long been proved to be ineffective."

This article has been amended post publication to reflect that the ban has been approved by the Delegated Legislation committee, not Parliament, as previously stated.

maria.espadinha@ft.com

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