After months of prevaricating it seems the government is finally about to make good on its promise to tackle pension scams and introduce a ban on cold calling amongst other measures.
Amendments by the Treasury have been made to the current draft Financial Claims and Guidance bill which will place the onus to frame and introduce the required regulation at the door of the DWP and Esther McVey. Not only do the amendments nominate a person to see this through they also set out a timescale. Mrs McVey must introduce the regulation by June or answer to the Commons as to why she has not done so. No Minister wants to have to do that.
That June date will be significant as it will mark 2 years since the original Panorama programme which focused on The Resort Group, better known to many as the Cape Verde scam, and their cold calling operation.
It was that programme that spurred me on to start the petition a few months later that seemed to galvanise support. Many advisers, life companies, advice groups, professional and regulatory bodies as well as key financial commentators and ex-Pensions Ministers rallied behind the campaign and the government shifted it position, well did an about face if we are honest, and in the November of 2016 in his Autumn statement Philip Hammond announced that they would indeed bring forward such a ban.
It seemed we had been scuppered by the ill-fated general election last year but hard work by many ensured it stayed on the radar and the government were not allowed to forget their promise.
I am under no illusions that this will not stop the scammers or the cold callers but it will put a serious dent in their plans and let’s not forget there are other measures included here that will take further steps to protect the public. Taking action against scammers is now firmly on the radar of the government.
On a day to day basis the vast majority of advisers do tremendous work to help our clients but that is continually undermined by these all too frequent stories of scams and any measures to combat them should be welcomed by us all.
To bring things full circle in the last few days I’ve been speaking to a lady who is helping victims of The Resort Group. She is in no doubt whatsoever that cold calling was the way the vast majority of the people she works with were first snared by the scammers and the ban would have prevented many of them getting involved and losing their pensions.
This isn’t the end of the battle against scammers but it is a significant step along the way.