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Experts worried over new pensions guidance service


Margaret Snowdon, a leading pensions expert, has claimed that the governments new pensions advice service “pensions wise” will not be properly staffed by the 6th April launch date.
Snowdon, who was awarded an OBE for service to the pension industry in 2010, spoke to the BBCs Radio 4 program. She said the Citizens Advice have left it too late to ensure staff have the right level of expertise to help guide people correctly on their pensions.
In October the Government announced that Citizens Advice would launch “Pensions Wise”, which would provide face-to-face "guidance" about pensions.
From April those aged 55 and over will have new freedoms to take their pension as a cash lump sum, with no obligation to buy an annuity. Anyone retiring on one of these new schemes can have free, impartial, face-to-face guidance on how to get the most out of the new freedoms. In total there will be 44 Citizens Advice offices offering the service, and there will be between three and seven members of staff in each office.
Snowdon said:
"This is so important. If people who don't understand pensions and don't understand much more than the people they are speaking to that's going to be so apparent and it's going to blow the service."
She then went onto say the minimum requirement for some people providing the guidance should have three years' experience plus a qualification.
Citizens Advice chief executive, Gillian Guy, said her organisation was not looking to recruit "pensions experts". The Treasury will be responsible for training as assessing staff
However Ms Guy, from Citizens Advice, said there was a "fundamental difference in the interpretation of what this service is. It's quite clearly been defined as guidance and not advice and it's not regulated advice".
She added that people receiving guidance at the bureaus offering it would be signposted to places where they can receive further advice.

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