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Pension bodies unite to reassure North East pension savers

ByPension Protection Fund

Jun 11, 2020

Pension bodies unite to reassure North East pension savers

A guide bringing together information for pension savers in one place on the support available to help protect their pensions: Here

YouGov research found that almost three quarters (70%) of North East savers were concerned about the security of their retirement savings

Seven bodies with responsibility for protecting UK pension savers’ pots have joined forces to create a guide answering some of the most commonly asked questions at this time.

It is hoped that the information guide will reassure scheme members amid concern about the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on financial wellbeing in the UK.

The Pension Protection Fund (PPF), the public body set up to protect members of defined benefit schemes if their employer becomes insolvent, has joined forces with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), the Pensions Regulator (TPR), the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Pensions Ombudsman to create the guide for pension savers. The guide outlines all the protections that are in place and directs savers where they can go to seek free, impartial guidance should they have any further questions.

The move, supported by Pensions Minister Guy Opperman, comes as both the PPF and FSCS report an increase in the number of enquiries they have received from concerned pension savers seeking guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The TPR, FCA and MaPS are all actively working to raise awareness of the risk of opportunistic pension scams at this time.

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, YouGov research found that almost three quarters (70%) of North East savers were concerned about the security of their retirement savings, with almost a fifth of that group (19%) concerned about the risk of falling victim to a pensions scam. The industry bodies anticipate that these concerns will have been further exacerbated by the current situation.

Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion Guy Opperman said:  “We’re doing whatever it takes to ensure people are supported through these unprecedented times and this guide is a useful addition to the measures pensions bodies have already taken to assist savers, such as the TPR’s transfer warnings and reporting easements.

“Keeping people informed is vital, and I welcome the coordinated approach being taken by the different pension bodies to assist anyone who needs advice or guidance.”

Oliver Morley, Chief Executive of the Pensions Protection Fund (PPF), added: “There are over ten million members of corporate defined benefit schemes across the UK who may not be aware of our role in protecting them should their scheme or sponsoring employer be unable to pay their pensions in the future.

“It’s really important that those saving into any scheme are aware of the measures that are in place to protect them. I’m delighted that we’re coming together with our partners across the industry to reinforce this message and launch this guide today.”

In support of the guide and the value it brings, Nigel Peaple, Director of Policy & Research at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA), said: “At this time of national crisis, pension trustees want savers to be reassured that while for many people the pandemic will be a cause of heightened anxiety about their finances, their pension need not be a reason to worry. Pension savings are well protected, carefully managed and sensibly diversified to be resilient to this kind of scenario. United with the rest of the pensions industry, the PLSA supports this guide as a really important resource to help ensure savers get the information they need to make informed financial decisions.”

-Ends-

Link to the guide on the PPF website: https://www.ppf.co.uk/covid-19-pensions

*YouGov research was carried out between 13 November and 19 December 2019 and surveyed 7,233 UK adults who aren’t retired and have a pension.

Notes to Editors:

The Pension Protection Fund

The Pension Protection Fund protects millions of people throughout the United Kingdom who belong to defined benefit pension schemes. If their employer becomes insolvent, and their pension scheme cannot afford to pay what they promised, the PPF will compensate them for their lost pension. The PPF is a public corporation, set up by the Pensions Act 2004, and is run by an independent Board. There are close to 260,000 PPF members and 150,000 FAS members. www.ppf.co.uk

ADDITIONAL QUOTES

Caroline Rainbird, Chief Executive of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which protects up to 100 per cent of assets held in authorised DC schemes, added: “This is an extremely important initiative and we are delighted to be a part of it. It is especially important during times of uncertainty for consumers to know that FSCS is there when our customers need us the most, to get them back on track. We hope this guidance will help people to understand that their pensions are protected.”

Charlotte Jackson, Head of Pensions Operations and Consumer Protection at the Money and Pensions Service, said: “Knowing what to do with your finances can be hard at the best of times but with many people worrying about their job security, how to pay the bills they have and whether or not now is a good time to access any pension savings they have, it is more important than ever not to rush into any decisions and to access appropriate support services when you need a bit of help thinking things through.  The Money and Pensions Service offers a range of services to help people as they think through how best to navigate financial decisions during this period.

“For people thinking about their pension, free specialist guidance is available from The Pensions Advisory Service on 0800 011 3797 and Pension Wise online. A small amount of time on a call with a pension specialist could make the key difference in helping people avoid decisions which could put the savings they have built up over their working lives at risk. We know scammers will try to take advantage of the situation so you should be suspicious of any unexpected approach.”

Anthony Arter, the Pensions Ombudsman said: “In these challenging times, it is important that people know where to turn to for help when they are having problems with their pension. Our staff are all working remotely to ensure our service operates as normal, and our phonelines are open from 9.00am to 5.00pm. At present we are unable to receive post, but we can accept online applications, in respect of new complaints, and email enquiries. I would like to reassure you that, wherever possible, we will be using our discretion to expand our time limits for those affected by the Covid-19 crisis. And we will continue to work with key stakeholders to provide a coordinated approach to our work.”     

 Charles Counsell, Chief Executive of The Pensions Regulator, said: “By working together, all organisations whose goal it is to protect savers are at their most effective, and so I welcome this guide as a useful tool to drive confidence in pensions.

“Among the biggest threats to pensions are scammers, and the guide gives important advice to savers on how to protect themselves, particularly as we battle through the COVID crisis. By helping savers spot the signs of a scam and highlighting where they can get advice, guidance and support, including by telephone and online, we hope to stop scammers in their tracks.”

Christopher Woolard, Interim Chief Executive of the FCA said: “With current market volatility, it is understandable that some individuals may be concerned about their pension pots and how they are invested. At times like this, it is more important than ever for consumers to seek out proper financial advice before making decisions that could damage their long-term interests. Consumers shouldn’t rush decisions about their pensions, and should visit our ScamSmart website to protect themselves from pension scams.”

CONTACT INFORMATION
PPF press office
020 8406 2107
pressoffice@ppf.co.uk
 
DWP Press Office
London Press Office (national media and London area enquiries only – not questions about personal claims) 020 3267 5144
Out-of-hours (journalists only) 07623 928 975
England and Wales (local media enquiries) 029 20 586 then 097 or 098 or 099
Scotland (local media enquiries) 0131 310 1122
 
FCA Press office
020 7066 3232
press.office@fca.org.uk
 
FSCS Press Office
Suzette Browne
020 7375 8631
publicrelations@fscs.org.uk
 
Money and Pension Service (MaPS) Press Office
MaPS Press Office 020 8132 5284 / media@maps.org.uk
Mia Cochrane, senior press officer 020 8132 4937 / mia.cochrane@maps.org.uk
 
Pensions Ombudsman Press Contacts
Sally.Littlecott@pensions-ombudsman.org.uk
Becca.Briant@pensions-ombudsman.org.uk
 
PLSA Press Office
Mark Smith, Senior PR Manager
020 7601 1726
mark.smith@plsa.co.uk
 
TPR Press office
Dan Menhinnitt, TPR media officer
dan.menhinnitt@tpr.gov.uk
01273 349511
07562 436 265