Pension Wise phone number launched

man on phone
man on phone

A phone number enabling pension savers to book an appointment for free guidance that will help them make vital decisions their new retirement freedoms has been confirmed by the government, with a fortnight to go before the rules come into force.

People wanting to book an appointment to use the Pension Wise guidance service can call 030 0330 1001, the Treasury said.

The Pension Wise service will help guide people through their options when radical new freedoms come into force from April 6 which will give them a level of choice they have never seen before over what to do with their pension savings.

Chancellor George Osborne said people can now book their appointments to have a conversations about what they might want to do with their pension.

He said the service is there to help people make choices about their future, adding that people will want to take their time to make "big decisions".

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The freedoms will be made available to people aged 55 and over with a defined contribution (DC) pension pot. They will no longer be required to buy a retirement income called an annuity with their pot and instead they will be able to take their money when they wish, subject to their marginal rate of income tax. An estimated half a million people will be eligible to take up the freedoms on April 6. Around 320,000 people retire every year with a DC pension, but because the freedoms were announced in last year's Budget, some people have been hanging on in order to make the most of the new freedoms.

People can access Pension Wise guidance online, at as well as over the phone and face-to-face. The Pensions Advisory Service and Citizens Advice will help to deliver the service.

The government has emphasised that April 6 is the start of the new pension freedoms and not a deadline for pension savers to act.

But concerns have been raised by the pensions industry about the scramble to get preparations for the reforms into place.

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Tom McPhail, head of pensions research at financial services firm Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "With only two weeks to go until the new freedoms go live, it has been a close run thing for the Treasury to get the promised service up and running.

"Pension Wise will be useful but for many investors it is unlikely to answer all their needs. If investors want more help, the Pension Wise service only directs them towards paying for regulated financial advice, which is hardly consistent with the spirit of the new freedoms.

"We know that most investors want to make their own decisions without paying for an adviser, at the same time they're likely to want more help than Pension Wise can offer. As a consequence, the pensions industry has also been gearing up for a big surge in demand."

Mr McPhail said that the Pension Wise service will cover planning how to draw an income from your pension, risks such as tax, fraud and running out of money, and shopping around for a good deal. But he said it will not cover some other factors such as technical questions and investment guidance to help people manage their money.

Graham Vidler, director of external affairs at the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF), said: "Hundreds of thousands of savers will be looking to Pension Wise to help them make sound financial decisions to last them the rest of their lives.

"Today's announcement of the telephone number means schemes finally have the full picture of these reforms and can now finalise communications to their members.

"With seven working days to go before the reforms go live schemes will do all they can to make sure their members are as well informed as possible for 6 April."

Calculate your pension income options

Richard Lloyd, executive director of consumer group Which?, said: "It's good that people will now be able to book appointments for guidance from Pension Wise.

"Getting Pension Wise up and running is a vital step towards helping people make more informed decisions about their finances, so anyone approaching retirement shouldn't make any hasty decisions they might regret and instead should wait for their guidance session."

Lisa Harris, Saga's head of communications, said: "Today's announcement setting out how people can book appointments for the new Pensions Wise guidance service is a welcome one, albeit a little late in the day. However, it's a good first step to help encourage people to ensure that they make the most of their hard-earned savings in retirement."

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