Drawing a veil over fraud

By David Piltz

Purdah, which comes from a Persian word meaning “curtain” or “veil”, is the period between an election being announced and the final election results. During purdah, the government is prevented from making announcements about new or controversial initiatives that could be seen as giving them an advantage in the general election.

The greatest changes to defined contribution pension arrangements came into force on 6 April, and the provision of a free impartial guidance guarantee service known as Pension Wise is a key part of the reforms. Pension Wise is provided by the Pensions Advisory Service, via the telephone, and through face-to-face guidance in various UK branches of the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Those considering taking their benefits now need to know about Pension Wise and be making use of it. But guess what? Purdah means the government has withdrawn the TV advertising of Pension Wise at the very point it comes into operation. There will now be a low-level advertising campaign using printed documents and digital advertising only until after the general election.

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You couldn’t make it up. The reforms are being rushed through because there is a general election coming, yet the closeness of that very election is preventing voters who need information from being told where to get it on their TV sets.

Meanwhile, the Citizens Advice Bureau is warning of pension scams and saying one retiree has lost £200k to fraudsters. They say over-65-year-olds are more than twice as likely to targeted by fraudsters who, politicians might be surprised to learn, are not stopping their activities during purdah. It seems the general election is much more important to politicians than making sure those retiring don’t make wrong decisions that may affect them for the rest of their lives — or worse, lose their pension pot to fraudsters altogether.