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28 Jan 2015

New Pensions Advice Service Not Ready for Launch Date

Experts are concerned that the new pension advice set to launch on 6 April will not have enough staff to deal with the influx of consumer enquiries, BBC News reports.

Back in October 2014, the government revealed that the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) would soon be able to provide free, one-on-one pensions advice for those wishing to understand the new rules and how they will affect them.

But speaking recently on the Money Box programme on Radio 4, pensions expert Margaret Snowdon warned that the CAB had not given its staff the right training and expertise they would need to offer the new advice - and that it would now be too late to do so.

Citizens Advice has stated that the service will be “up and running” by April, with 44 of its 316 offices in England and Wales employing three to seven employees to offer face-to-face ‘Pension Wise´ guidance. But the recruitment process is not yet complete, and critics say that it has been left too late.

Snowdon feels that this factor is crucial to the success of the initiative: “This is so important. If people who don´t understand pensions and don´t understand much more than the people they are speaking to that´s going to be so apparent and it´s going to blow the service.”

Her suggestion is that the minimum requirement for Pension Wise advisors should be a formal qualification, as well as three years´ experience. But Guy defends the current hiring methods, arguing that they were not looking to recruit “pensions experts.”

There is a “fundamental difference in the interpretation of what this service is,” she explained. “It´s quite clearly been defined as guidance and not advice and it´s not regulated advice”. After speaking to an employee at Citizens Advice, consumers will then be pointed in the direction of where they can receive further expert advice, she added.

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