22% of middle-aged savers say govt doing 'terribly' at driving Pension Wise use

Over a fifth (22 per cent) of 45 to 65-year-olds think the government has performed “terribly” in its attempt to make using Pension Wise the norm, according to research from Just Group.

The retirement specialist’s research also found that almost half (45 per cent) of the age group thought the government had performed “quite terribly” in the task, with just over one in ten (11 per cent) stating that the government was doing well.

The same research found that people thought that for a behaviour to be defined as “the norm” it would have to be common to just over two-thirds (68 per cent) of the population, almost five times higher than the 14 per cent of pension pots accessed after the use of Pension Wise.

This led Just Group communications director, Stephen Lowe, to call for an “ambitious and targeted shift in policy” if Pensions Minister Guy Opperman wanted to fulfil his ambition of savers’ use of the free service becoming the norm.

Lowe said: “The Financial Conduct Authority’s top priority should be getting more people into Pension Wise appointments at earlier ages, before these pension savers are eligible to access their pension benefits. We can then help people to make informed rather than uninformed decisions.

“The free to use service is proven to help people become more aware of their options, more confident in their decision-making and less likely to fall victim to scams.

“Automatically booking people onto appointments would help to transform Pension Wise usage. The highly successful policy of automatic enrolment into workplace pensions shows that inertia can be a force for good – applying this to guidance would be a great first step towards increasing take-up and achieving better retirement outcomes for millions.”

In response, a DWP spokesperson said: "These statistics only provide a partial picture of take-up. Only those who haven’t received regulated advice are asked whether they received Pension Wise guidance – some people will have received both.
 
"The take-up of Pension Wise is increasing, with Pension Wise appointments up 29 per cent over the last financial year.”

Just Group has been consistently calling for the introduction of automatic Pension Wise appointments, with its research released in January pointing out that in some areas of the UK just over one in 100 eligible defined contribution pension savers were using the free service.

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