TPR slammed as ‘utterly ineffective’ for delayed pension scam prevention action

Written by Talya Misiri

The Pensions Regulator, government and other regulatory bodies have been largely criticised for their delayed action on pension scams.

In light of yesterday’s deadline for responses to the government’s pension scams consultation, Pension Life branded the regulator’s past actions as “utterly ineffective”.

Pension Life chair and campaigner Angela Brooks noted that the government has “refused to engage for more than three years” while HMRC, the regulator and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have been aware of the effects of scams on pension savings for “more than 15 years, but have done little to attempt to combat this scourge effectively”.

The campaign group believe that the introduction of the pension freedoms has made the situation worse.

Brooks also critiqued TPR for pushing the blame onto pensioners. "In addition, it has recently come to my attention that even the utterly ineffective pensions regulator has claimed that 'pensioners had taken advantage of the pensions system by accessing money which is not their money'.”

“The government and the regulators should talk to the victims. 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.”

Brooks concluded that all bodies involved with pensions and financial scams have failed in addressing the problem earlier, if at all.

“My position is that neither the government, nor HMRC, nor TPR, 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.

“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.”

TPR told Pensions Age: "Firstly, regarding her point that: the Pensions Regulator has claimed that “pensioners had “taken advantage” of the pensions system by accessing money which is not their money.' We do not recognize having made this claim."

Also as stated in Andrew Warwick-Thompson's blog post published yesterday, he said: "The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has been in the forefront of raising awareness of pension scams through the Scorpion campaign since 2013. We also chair the multi-agency Project Bloom which co-ordinates government, law enforcement and regulatory agencies’ response to a variety of scam and associated criminal activities. And we have been successfully involved in some of the highest profile pension scam cases.

"I think we are ideally placed to identify those changes that will best protect pension scheme members."

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