8. What assessment he has made of the further steps which are necessary to ensure the fair treatment of defined contribution pension customers in response to the recent market reports published by the Financial Conduct Authority; and if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a second line of defence protection for such pension schemes. (907240)
We welcome the Financial Conduct Authority’s announcement yesterday that it will introduce new rules in April to protect consumers accessing their pension pot. The rules will introduce a second line of defence, with pension providers required to give consumers wanting to access their pension pot very clear risk warnings and to highlight the fact that guidance from Pension Wise or regulated advice can help them to avoid making a poorly informed decision.
I thank the Minister for that answer. I welcome the fact that the FCA, perhaps at the last minute, recognised there was an issue and took the right action yesterday. What more will she do to ensure that when people make free choices about their investments after April, they buy the right thing, not make a terrible mistake?
I congratulate my hon. Friend on expressing the importance of a second line of defence. The Government are determined to give pensioners the opportunity to make their own decisions about what to do with their pension savings. Nevertheless, it is vital to ensure that they have reasonable protections.
There were reports yesterday that some people who exercise these rights might face large tax bills that they did not know about. Will the Minister be absolutely clear about what measures will be put in place to ensure that people are not disadvantaged, because she knows, as I do, that people are already being approached informally to get them to exercise these rights?
I reassure the hon. Lady that we have sought to give people the opportunity to make their own decisions about what to do with their lifelong savings. That is far better than in the past, when they were effectively told, “You buy an annuity and that’s that.” We are putting in place clear protections, with a criminal measure on scamming and on pretending to be the Government’s pensions guidance service, and there will be proper guidance, with fully qualified guiders who are able to help people through the process. There is now a further line of defence, because pension providers will be required to point out to people the vital importance of taking guidance or regulated advice.