Examination of Witnesses

Part of Pension Schemes Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:31 am on 23rd October 2014.

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Matthew Oakley: This is a discussion around the kind of back-stop option. There are obviously a range of things that you could do here. Obviously there is a worry that people have not had the guidance and that they are then making decisions based on a lack of information, or just not making a decision.

Obviously, regulation is one way of addressing that, with the examples that you put forward. I worry, however, that that could have unintended consequences. So, you could ask, for instance, “Have you thought about whether you have provided income for your partner?” Of course, that pushes someone in a certain way, because we know what people feel emotionally, and so that in itself is not even an objective and clear piece of information for a consumer.

What I think we would like to see, certainly first off, is that pension providers and broader providers are working in the best interests of consumers. That means that they should be working as an industry to get best practice principles about how they deal with this situation, because they know it is coming. We know that take-up estimates vary from 3% to 93%; I imagine that it will be somewhere between those two figures. We know that a lot of people will not take the guidance, certainly initially, so the industry needs to work out how it will deal with that, and it needs to be conscious that we must improve the situation so that people are signposted regularly to the guidance.