UK gov’t spends £18m on largely ignored Pension Wise adverts

The government has spent £17.8m advertising its free Pension Wise service since 2014, the minister for pensions and financial inclusion has revealed, despite only 12% of eligible customers using it. 

The spend was disclosed by Guy Opperman, pictured left, in a letter to Frank Field, MP for Birkenhead and chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, though the minister insisted that this represented a good investment for the the government despite the low take-up.

In his letter responding to questions asked by Field, Opperman said that take-up for the service had been “very responsive” to paid advertising, “which encourages the target audience to book a telephone or face-to-face appointment or to visit the website”.

He said: “For example, immediately following the January 2017 TV campaign, the service experienced record levels of demand (appointment bookings and web visits) and delivered record numbers of appointments in both February and March.”

Pension Wise is a free government service that seeks to help older citizens to understand what they can do with their pension pot money in the light of the pensions freedoms that were announced in the 2014 Budget to start in the 2015/16 tax year.

Pension freedoms mean that anyone aged 55 and over can take their pension pot as a lump sum, paying no tax on the first 25%, with the rest taxed as if it were salary at their income tax rate.

Pension Wise offers guidance on its website about the options for taking one’s pension pot, and seeks to help users understand the tax implications of doing so.

It offers free guidance appointments over the telephone or face-to-face for discussing these options.

Eugene Costello
Eugene Costello has been a journalist for some 20 years, and has written for a wide variety of UK and international newspapers and magazines.

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