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Cold call ban latest: concerns Treasury will delay again

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Cold call ban latest: concerns Treasury will delay again

People who supported the pension cold calling ban are concerned the Treasury could delay the ban further with another consultation on the proposal.

The Treasury will ‘shortly’ be setting out the next steps on the pension cold calling ban, but New Model Adviser® understands the government thinks the proposal is complex and one that requires a lot of consultation with industry figures.

Last year the Treasury announced it would ban pension cold calling following a petition started by IFA Darren Cooke. The petition, which was first reported by New Model Adviser®, garnered 8,690 signatures and support from firms such as Royal London and Hargreaves Lansdown.

However despite the government announcing the policy and launching a consultation earlier this year, no legislation for the ban has come into effect.

In a House of Lords debate last month, the former pensions minister Ros Altmann pushed the government to bring in an amendment to the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill.

But Peta Buscombe, the parliamentary under-secretary of state for work and pensions, said ahead of the consultation response, expected very soon, the government does not believe it is the right time for the ban to be included in the Bill.

In a statement sent to New Model Adviser® a Treasury spokeswoman said: ‘We are determined to put an end to dodgy pension scams and have consulted on a number of measures to tackle the problem. We will shortly set out next steps on the cold calling ban.’

New Model Adviser® understands the Treasury believes this is a complex area which requires detailed consultation with stakeholders.

Tom Selby, a senior analyst at AJ Bell, and one of the original campaigners for the ban, said he would not be surprised if there is another consultation and was concerned this could further delay things.

‘This concern is as a result of the general election this has already been delayed and it should have been looked at as part of pension freedoms. It took a lot of lobbying the government to do something, then we had a delay and we still don’t have adequate protection for consumers from scams,’ he said.

‘The government needs to get a move on so I hope this is going to be a very efficient consultation. What you don’t want is a consultation that gets everything kicked into the long-grass,’ he said.

Tom McPhail, head of policy at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the Treasury may want to consult further on the ban, because there are complexities around the detail which it will want to get right.

‘I think the implementation of a cold calling ban will be challenging,’ he said. ‘It will be understandable the Treasury feels the need to consult on the detail. Once you get into the detail of defining exactly what cold calling looks like, looking at things like social media, it would make sense to me they would want to consult further.’

If the government does consult again, looking at specific aspects of cold calling such as what is classed as an existing relationship, this raises questions about when it will become legislation.

If there is another consultation then this could mean the government delays including the legislation for it and if it does not make it into the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill as an amendment, then it is hard to see what legislation vehicle it could get into given it is the only personal finance bill in the two year legislative programme of the Queen's Speech.

One industry figure, who did not wish to be named, said she is worried the government may delay the ban because of the complexity around defining what cold calls are.

Cooke, who started the petition, said he cannot understand why the government is taking so long to consult on it.

‘If the cold calling bit is going to be delayed by other aspects of the consultation then I would be annoyed. If they have some objections to the cold calling ban then I would like to know what they are.’

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