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House of Commons Hansard
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Pension Investments
09 January 2017
Volume 619

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6. What steps the Government are taking to ensure that people have the information they need to make informed decisions about how they use their pension investments. [908060]

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Mr Speaker, were I allowed to wish you a happy new year, you can be assured that I would do so.

Pension Wise provides guidance to people aged 50 and over with a defined contribution pension pot on their options under the pension flexibilities. We are consulting on a single financial guidance body to provide debt advice and guidance on money and pensions.

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In thanking the Minister for his reply, I cannot resist wishing him, and indeed the whole House, a happy new year. Can he tell me what information the Government are providing to let people know about their entitlement to the state pension?

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I thank my hon. Friend for his salutations and for his question. The Department for Work and Pensions continues to run a multi-channel communication campaign that includes radio, press and social media to raise awareness of the new state pension. As well as directing people to information on gov.uk and working with stakeholders to deliver key information, our priority has been to provide personalised information to individuals so that they know how much state pension they are likely to get, and from when. Since February 2016, the online Check your State Pension service has had more than 2.1 million views.

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The Minister’s warm words will do nothing to reassure the women in my constituency for whom the Government’s advice on pensions has a terrible reputation because of the injustices highlighted by the Women Against State Pension Inequality campaign. The one thing the Government could do to persuade the public to believe their pronouncements on pension entitlements would be to give justice to the WASPI women by looking again at the 2011 changes.

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The hon. Lady will be aware, because the WASPI women have been discussed in the House and I have discussed this matter personally with her on many occasions, that the changes affecting them were in the Pensions Act 1995, and that a lot of time and resources were devoted to informing them of the situation, including millions of letters being sent out from 2011.

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A happy new year to you and everyone in the House, Mr Speaker, and particularly to the WASPI women. I hope that they have a better year this year.

The leaflet entitled “Ways to save in 2017” recently published by the Treasury mentioned the junior ISA, the help to buy ISA, premium bonds, cash and stocks and shares ISAs and the new lifetime ISA, but it completely omitted to mention pensions. That is an absolute disgrace, and it confirms my fears that the Government have downgraded the role of pensions and are using the gimmick of ISAs to distract attention from pensionable savings. Does the Minister agree that pensionable saving is the best form of saving for retirement? Will he establish a pensions and savings commission to ensure that dignity in retirement is promoted and protected?

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I must totally disagree with the hon. Gentleman’s analysis of the importance that the Government place on pensions. A lot of effort goes into communicating with people, on television and elsewhere, about auto-enrolment. The auto-enrolment of so many people has been one of the great successes of this Government and of the coalition, and I hope that that continues.

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I know that the Minister agrees with me on the need for greater transparency in the pensions world, particularly around costs. He will therefore be keen to address the widespread criticism of the Government’s failing to act to ensure that people get the best possible returns. The Financial Conduct Authority’s interim report in November highlighted a number of failures in the asset management industry relating to the transparency of costs and charges applied to pension investments, stating that “weak price competition” was having a “material impact” on investment returns. Labour is committed to implementing all the FCA’s recommendations. Are the Government?

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