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The government’s pensions cold calling ban will not be included in the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill meaning legislation may be delayed until 2019, Citywire has learned.
Delaying the ban potentially leaves thousands of savers at risk of falling prey to scammers, according to the latest research published by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
As part of its Financial Lives Survey published yesterday, which used the experiences of nearly 13,000 consumers to paint a picture of financial services in the UK, the regulator found that 30% of those aged between 55 and 64 received an unsolicited approach about their pension.
Of these, 5% responded to the approach. The FCA estimated this meant 107,000 people were 'potentially the subject of a scam' in the last year.
Last year the Treasury announced it would ban cold calls about pensions following a petition started by independent financial adviser Darren Cooke. The petition gained over 8,000 signatures.
After a delay because of the general election the Treasury released its response to the consultation on the ban in August, but did not give a clear indication on when legislation for the ban would be brought forward.
Lobbying by figures in financial services, including former pensions minister Ros Altmann, pushed for the legislation to be included within the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill which will soon pass through the House of Commons.
However a source has told Citywire's New Model Adviser® the government will not include the cold calling ban as an amendment because it goes beyond the wording of the bill.
The revelation that the measure may have to wait until next year's Finance Act, pushing back its implementation until 2019 disappointed campaigners.
Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell, the investment broker, said: ‘I think it reflects very poorly on this government if measures to protect savers announced almost a year ago – and which were already long overdue – will not be implemented next year. They have used two announcements to claim credit for it, so they have to accept criticism when nothing actually happens. People are looking for concrete evidence of the negative impact of Brexit – this is as clear an example as you could wish for,’ he said.
‘A policy which all parties agree is necessary to protect consumers might not see the light of day 2019 because the government held an election to gain a mandate for Brexit. It’s absolutely shocking and while nobody is saying the anti-scams measures set out will solve the problem outright, they will make a difference.’
Laura McAlpine, senior public affairs manager at Zurich, a pensions provider, said: ‘If the cold calling ban is not included in the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill, then it is highly likely that it will not be implemented until 2018 at the earliest, or even 2019, given the lack of a legislative vehicle.
‘While it is clear that progress is being made, it is frustrating that parliamentary procedure appears to be blocking inclusion of the ban in the bill. Further delay may only encourage unscrupulous introducers and would-be-scammers to regroup and result in more consumers being tricked out of their retirement savings.’
A Treasury spokeswoman said she could not comment on what would be included in the bill. ‘We will shortly set out next steps on the cold calling ban,’ she added.