Swift action to ban cold-calling has been promised by the government in a bid to stem the flow of pension savers being lured into scams.
In a joint paper, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and HM Treasury confirmed the two bodies would "continue to work swiftly" to implement the much-called for ban, after it was last year revealed £43m had been lost to scams since 2014.
The departments said they will amend the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill - which will primarily merge The Pensions Advisory Service, the Money Advice Service, and Pension Wise - to introduce something "workable". This will later be complemented by regulations to enforce the ban, it said.
The department was responding to the Work and Pensions Committee's (WPC) report on the pension freedoms, published in December, which called for the ban to be in place by June.
The WPC proposed an amendment which would have mandated the secretary of state for work and pensions, Esther McVey, to introduce the ban by June or explain the delay in a statement to parliament.
The government said it agreed with the principles behind the amendment, but would bring forward its own amendment to ensure the proposal is "workable".
The joint DWP and HMT paper said: "The government agrees with the intent and principles of the committee's proposed amendment, and will shortly bring forward its own amendment which will build on this further. It is important to address the risk of scammers attempting to challenge or circumvent a ban and to ensure that the ban is workable, robust and less liable to legal challenge in the future."
The ban will cover phone calls, text messages, e-mails and other forms of direct communication from firms savers do not already have any connection with. The government will also legislate to limit savers' rights to transfer to certain occupational pension schemes, including master trust, after the master trust authorisation and supervision regime is in place later this year.
Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) policy lead for engagement, EU and regulation James Walsh welcomed the move but said it is necessary to ensure there are no loopholes.
"We are pleased to see that the government has chosen to move more quickly on tackling pension scams and this announcement is a useful step forward," he said. "However, while the cold-calling ban is welcome, it is not a watertight solution. Some scammers will still work to find a way around legislation by, for example, calling from overseas. We look forward to continuing to work closely with government to tackle this issue."
The departments also accepted recommendations from the WPC to amend the bill to require savers to expressly take or refuse guidance before they can access their pension savings, a form of "auto-guidance".
They said the recommendation "seeks to strengthen the nudge towards pensions guidance" and added they believed their current amendments to the bill aligned "closely" with the WPC's recommendations
The Financial Guidance and Claims Bill is currently working its way through parliament, but is expected to receive Royal Assent in March.
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