The Money and Pensions Service (Maps) is keen to return to face to face appointments, it has said.
Speaking at a Work and Pensions Committee hearing yesterday (September 22), Alex Connolly, chief operating officer at the Money and Pensions Service, said Maps was considering switching back to in-person appointments but will keep a mixed approach to serving its customers.
The guidance service moved to a telephone-based service during the pandemic, which will be a big part moving forward, but it said it was keen to get back to delivering in-person guidance as well.
He said: “We will resume provision of face to face appointments. The specific channel mix will develop based on the learnings from the Covid period. We've clearly demonstrated that it is practical to deliver very effective sessions over the telephone in circumstances where previously we would have delivered face to face.
“It will be more efficient for us to deliver more over the telephone but we need to make this customer orientated, so, where customers need face to face, they'll get face to face, where we can deliver over the telephone, we will seek to deliver over the telephone.”
The MPs asked Maps when it would be making this decision, to which Connolly said it was “actively under consideration at the moment”.
Connolly explained there were a number of things it learned from its telephone delivery.
“We've got significant learnings there that we will incorporate within what we are calling our pensions transformation strategy, which is Maps looking at all its pension services; pensions guidance, Pensions Wise, and think about how we can make them better, more effective, and do a better job for customers.”
Tackling volume of intake
Pension Wise launched in 2015 and Connolly said the volumes have grown year on year and satisfaction levels were very high.
He said: “We work very closely with DWP on the future volume requirements. We very much rely on DWP as the pensions policy team here to steer us as to what capacity is required and we will then make sure that we meet the demand that comes through the door. I can say that we do currently meet all the demand that comes to Pensions Wise and we deliver great service.
“We're actively working with our DWP colleagues as we speak, on the resourcing and the budgets for next year, conscious that stronger nudge launches at the beginning of the next tax year. We expect to conclude those conversations by the end of the calendar year.”
The regulator is looking to introduce new rules to get providers to book Pension Wise appointments for their clients looking to access defined contribution pensions.
In its consultation, which is now closed, the regulator said its proposals would encourage savers to take the right guidance at the right time to help them make informed decisions.