CAB to deliver face-to-face guidance

Citizens Advice has been selected as the provider to deliver the free and impartial face to face pension guidance from April, the Treasury announced on Saturday, while the Money Advice Service has been left out of the delivery process.

The Pensions Advice Service had already been named as the organisation that will deliver the telephone element of the guidance service.

But the ABI has slammed the lack of clarity – seven months after the guidance guarantee was unveiled – about what the service will actually look like and how the tax and regulatory reforms will work in practice.

The government says it will also design an online service also be as part of the scheme. The face to face service will be delivered by Citizens Advice across England and Wales, Citizens Advice Scotland and Citizens Advice Northern Ireland.

The government will legislate next week to underpin the guidance, including an amendment which will make imitation of the guidance service a criminal offence.

ABI deputy director general, director of policy Huw Evans says: “Whilst today’s announcement is a step forward, clarity is still needed on a number of outstanding issues including what the guidance will actually look like and how the tax and regulatory aspects of the reforms will work in practice.  It is now seven months since the Budget and time is beginning to run out to get this finalised.”
Whilst today’s announcement is a step forward, clarity is still needed on a number of outstanding issues including what the guidance will actually look like and how the tax and regulatory aspects of the reforms will work in practice.  It is now seven months since the Budget and time is beginning to run out to get this finalised. Pension providers remain committed to making the reforms work well for customers.

Speaking from a Citizens Advice Bureau in Sutton, the Rt. Hon George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said: “Giving people the freedom to manage their own pension is the backbone of this government’s radical pension reforms and key to our long term economic plan.

“That’s why I’m delighted that respected and impartial consumer advice organisations – Citizens Advice and The Pensions Advisory Service – will be offering free face to face and telephone guidance to people across the country from April, as promised in the Budget.

“These organisations have years of experience dealing with a variety of consumer issues and are well placed to be accessible to everyone who reaches pension age and feels they would benefit from the guidance.”

Pension expert Dr Ros Altmann CBE said: “This is a big step forwards in ensuring the pension revolution announced in the Budget will have a meaningful impact on pension savers. It is clear that, currently, most people saving for a pension don’t understand all the vital issues, and it’s really important that they receive impartial help to make the best decisions for themselves.”

The Pensions Advisory Service chief executive Michelle Cracknell said: “The Pensions Advisory Service has been offering free, independent and impartial information and guidance about all aspects of peoples’ retirement savings for more than thirty years. We are excited at the opportunity presented by the promise of a guidance guarantee to get more people than ever engaged in thinking about their retirement options. We hope that our combined knowledge, expertise and reputation will enable us to create the best service and customer journey possible for those reaching their retirement.

“We believe that it is essential that the guidance is delivered by specialists that have the experience and knowledge to respond to how people feel about this subject and get them to engage. Once we talk to people about their lives and their priorities, our experience is that we can get people to feel more confident about what they need to do next. CAB has a strong local and national presence and the partnership between TPAS and CAB has existed for many decades, so anyone who had a pension question had access to high quality free, impartial guidance on this topic. Our experience on the helpline is that our customers value the access to specialists and the bespoke and personalised conversations that we have with them about their retirement options.

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “The right guidance can be the key to a financially stable retirement. People who have diligently saved year after year towards their retirement deserve to choose how to make the most of their pension pot and good guidance is central to helping people make the right decisions for them.

As a trusted, independent charity, Citizens Advice is in a unique position to deliver face-to-face pensions guidance. We have 75 years’ experience working at the heart of communities, helping people get to grips with their finances. It’s a natural fit for us to help people understand their pension options and make choices for their future.”