Clause 44 - Commencement

Part of Pension Schemes Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 4th November 2014.

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Photo of Steve Webb Steve Webb The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions 11:00 am, 4th November 2014

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. Just to be clear, he probably is right that we are somewhere between 2.5% and 90%—there is a reasonable chance of that. As I tried to say in my oral evidence, there will be an awful lot of people out there, particularly in the early days, who have tiny pension pots. They will have been auto-enrolled in the past few years, close to pension age, and have ended up with a few hundred or few thousand quid. They are just going to cash it out. We know that. They are welcome to take guidance if they want to, but it is pretty obvious what most of those people will do. Quite a lot of the early pension pots—those in the early days of auto-enrolment—will be like that.

I am not going to get too hung up on the percentage. The key for me is that the right people take guidance. As I also mentioned in my oral evidence, there is a set of people at the top who will probably bypass guidance and go straight to regulated financial advice. They know that is what they are going to need so they might as well just get on with it. Many of the people right at the top will pay for advice straight away and the people at the bottom will probably bypass guidance. We will make it available to them, but many of them will just say, “Why do I need to do that? I’ve got 500 or 700 quid; I’m just going to take the cash.” There is not a target, but if there was it would not be 100%.

Our principal focus is on driving up take-up of the guidance, which we want to maximise. The concept of a second line of defence says that there is a set of people  who probably should have taken guidance and did not, so how do we ensure that they are properly provided for? They get the wake-up pack and the flag, but bear in mind that we will not necessarily know who has visited the website. Our figures might not show that someone made a choice having found out about it and thought about it, and who might well have gone to our website, gone through it in some detail and made an informed choice based on that guidance. I am not going to get too hung up on the percentages, but I agree with the hon. Gentleman that we want to maximise take-up up of the guidance.