UK Pensions Regulator slammed as ‘utterly ineffective’ by action group

Pensions campaign group Pension Life has slammed the UK government’s “ongoing inaction” and branded the Pensions Regulator as “utterly ineffective” in its response to the UK government consultation on pension scams.

In December, the UK government launched a consultation on pension scams in which it asked for responses from stakeholders to a series proposals aimed at making it harder for people to be scammed out of their pensions, with the deadline for responses passing on Monday.

The response from Pension Life that states on its website that it was set up to identify and prevent pension scams, close loopholes in pension law and rescue victims of pension fraud, that has been forwarded to International Investment is a particularly scathing overview of the UK pensions system.

The chair of Pension Life, Angela Brooks, said: “The government consultation admits that ‘pension scams can cost people their life savings, and leave people facing retirement with limited income, and little or no opportunity to build their pension savings back up.’

“However, the government, HMRC, the Pensions Regulator and the FCA have known this for more than 15 years, but have done little to attempt to combat this scourge effectively.

‘Ongoing inaction’

“The government has done little to help tackle the problem and indeed George Osborne’s so-called ‘Pensions Freedoms’ and the government’s ongoing inaction have made the problem worse,” she says.

Brooks says that the UK government has “refused to engage” for more than three years and claims that it has even referred to “the victims of pension scams as ‘fools’.”

Brooks detailed response to the consultation paper, which dubs the Pensions Regulator as “utterly ineffective”, outlines a number of instances that investors have been victims or scams and inappropriate advice.

“The government and the regulators should talk to the victims,” she said. “It is clear from the wording of this consultation document that there are still gaping holes in the understanding of how scams work and how they have evolved over the past few years.  Since 2013, the government has refused to engage with the victims and this has to stop.  The victims’ voices have to be heard since they, above everybody else, are the experts and the government should learn from them.”

‘Golden opportunity’

“This outcome of this consultation is their golden opportunity to start to put matters right.  It is their chance to prevent many many more people being scammed out of their hard earned retirement funds.”

“My position is that neither the government, nor HMRC, nor the Pensions Regulator, nor the police, nor the SFO, nor the ombudsmen, nor the ceding providers in the UK really understand or are prepared to take responsibility for their failings which have led to this untreated scamming epidemic,” she concluded.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gary Robinson
Deputy Editor, International Investment and Head of Video at Open Door Media Publishing. A fully qualified journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years' financial services experience, both as journalist and originally as an IFA.

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