Baroness Ros Altmann Gives Evidence About Cold Calling Ban To Work And Pensions Committee

6 November 2017

Baroness Ros Altmann Gives Evidence About Cold Calling Ban Giving evidence this week at Parliament's Work and Pensions Committee into pension freedoms, the former pensions minister Baroness Ros Altmann said that she encountered "resistance" from civil servants when she brought up, bringing in a cold calling ban. They also gave her explanations that "didn't really ring true".

"The resistance was coming from the civil service," she said. "I had numerous meetings, at which officials gave me a number of reasons why we couldn't ban cold calling, including such things as they emanate from overseas so that wouldn't really stop it; we're already doing it, we've got Action Fraud, we've got Project Bloom, we've got lots of different things, or it's very difficult or complicated."

"When I subsequently asked written parliamentary questions after I left the ministerial post, it turned out a number of the reasons they gave me didn't seem to be valid. For example, they don't have any idea where the schemes originate from."

She also said that she met with various bodies, including Project Bloom and City of London Police, but that "the answer was always at that time 'we can't do it' or 'it won't work'."

"I had a number of explanations which to me didn't really ring true, which is why I kept going back and trying to have more meetings on the subject. To be honest with you, I don't think that the government has now recognised we need to do this."

During the meeting, the Work and Pensions chairman Frank Field MP revealed how he was targeted by potential pension scammers earlier in 2017:

"I was surprised, when I was 75 and had to take part of my pension, the number of unsolicited… correspondence [I received], advising how to spend, what I should do," he said.

"They were obviously programmed for somebody's 75th birthday and, bam, I had that letter through."

The government has agreed to move forward with banning unsolicited calls, texts and emails related to pensions, although it is as yet unclear when this ban will come into force.

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