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Pensions: Fraud

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN 106223, tabled on 20 October 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of implementing a training programme for pension and finance professionals to ensure they can more readily identify scam risks.

Answered on

23 October 2020

The Government is committed to safeguarding consumer savings. The Government is raising public awareness of scams through ongoing communications directly from DWP and with other organisations.

Joint and independent communications from the FCA and tPR spelling out the dangers, what to watch out for and giving clarity to trustees and providers on the boundaries between guidance and advice have been issued since April this year ( Prior to Covid-19 the FCA and tPR conducted regular campaigns, through the ScamSmart branding, to raise awareness of pension scams and what to watch out for, these have been deemed very successful, over 222,000 visited the ScamSmart website to find out how to identify a scam scheme as a result of the most recent pre Covid campaign, July – November 2019.

In addition, Government is actively monitoring the numbers of transfers and scams and preparing further policy responses. At the onset of the covid-19 pandemic, the Department convened a cross-government and regulator group to closely monitor and respond to any increase in transfers and scams. The group includes DWP, HMT, both the Pensions Regulator and the FCA as well as the Money and Pensions Service and the Pension Ombudsman. All of the participating organisations have confirmed that to date no evidence has emerged of an increase in either transfers or scams, based on their internal monitoring of the industry.

DWP continues to communicate regularly on social media to set out the warning signs of a scam and has made multiple posts referencing Pension Scams and #ScamSmart in total across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in the period March to September 2020.

The Pension Schemes Bill was amended by Government in the House of Lords to add to the example conditions that can be placed on the statutory right to transfer by regulations. This amendment makes it explicit that the regulations can require that in certain circumstances the member demonstrates they have taken information or guidance before the transfer can proceed to ensure they are informed of the risks.

The Government wants to support all pension savers aged 50 and over in the lead up to accessing their pension savings, to make informed choices about their retirement income, which includes making them aware of Pension Wise through communications from their pension scheme trustees. We intend introducing Single page summary and single page risk warnings from age 50 and then every 5 years until the point they access their pension savings.

The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) conducted trials to establish different ways to encourage more people to take Pension Wise guidance before accessing their pension savings under Pension Freedoms. These trials found that a nudge developed using behavioural science principles significantly increased take-up of Pension Wise guidance among those wishing to access their pension savings under pension freedoms. The evaluation report was published in July 2020. We are working to develop the most effective and proportionate way to implement this nudge to pension guidance. We intend to publish our proposed way forward shortly.

In addition, we have banned cold calling and seek to provide and prosecute and publicise the conviction of all who commit pension scams.

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