I wonder how many journalists got this email yesterday.
Tomorrow, the Your Pension Your Choice campaign formally launches, urging the Government to revise rules that unfairly trap 5 million retirees in the UK. The campaign is calling for all retirees, no matter when they retired, to have the same pension freedoms. A campaign website (www.yourpensionyourchoice.co.uk) and Change petition will be live tomorrow too – details in the notes to editors section below.
Under strict embargo until 00:01 tomorrow, please see below the launch press release and campaign imagery. We’d be happy to send through other supporting images and the FAQ page for the campaign – just ask.
Sounds like a campaign with real social purpose doesn’t it!
Click through and you read that the campaign is about redress for the people buying annuities in the years of QE depressed rates following the financial crisis and before the Pension Freedoms.
I had campaigned for some kind of freedom for these people before and after the Budget speech in 2014 and while I’m sure that my blog had no influence on Government, I did welcome the Chancellor’s release for people who were having to buy an annuity at the wrong time.
If you want to read what I was saying , simply read my blogs between 2012 and 2014 that talk about the need to reform retirement choice (there are 15 including several calling for a secondary annuity market).
I don’t think that any of today’s campaigners were around then. Since then the world has moved on , but the importance of annuities as a means of guaranteeing a wage for life is as important as ever.
Why does it take five years for this campaign to get off the ground? The answer is that this is a fake campaign as you are about to find out.
What is the impact of the campaign now? Short of stirring up yet more unrest against pensions, very little. The legislation for a secondary annuity market was ditched by Ros Altmann in a previous Government. That ship has sailed. There are new ships in the harbour now.
Not all it seems
At first sight this seems a “by the people for the people” campaign. It’s supported by MP Paul Masterton. But if you read to the very bottom of the page, you come across this phrase.
The Your Pension Your Choice campaign is funded by DRB Pension Assistance Ltd, authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under registration number 714863
I knew DRB as DRB Capital – they contributed to Frank Field’s W&P Select’s inquiry into Pension Freedoms. This is from its submission (you can read it in full here)
“DRB Pension Assistance Ltd (“DRB”) is the UK subsidiary company of DRB Capital. Formed in 2013, DRB Capital is the second largest, and one of the most trusted purchasers of annuity payments in the United States. DRB Capital offers liquidity and flexibility to individual sellers in need of money, who have guaranteed structured settlements, annuities and investment annuities, providing lump sum cash payments in return. DRB Pension Assistance is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to provide regulated products and services in the United Kingdom
So this campaign is a put up job by an American fund manager keen to get a foothold in the UK.
The plot thickens
It seems that the person who sent me the email isn’t the campaign manager so much as a PR agent of DRB. Far from being the passionate campaigner, he is part of a bungling bunch of buffoons who cannot even get their disclosures right.
I wrote to him complaining that it was far from clear that this campaign was a publicity stunt and later in the day I got this weedy response.
Thanks Henry, particularly for your early email this morning. It meant I had a fairly stern conversation with our media distribution partner, who despite us including our notes to editor section in our brief, did not include it in the distribution
Whether out of incompetence or deliberate non-disclosure, journalists were being suckered into printing a story that is no more than a PR puff.
With the email , came a new version of the press release but this time it contained the proper disclosures
|Notes to editor
So not only was the campaign a publicity stunt for DRB, not only did DRB put the matter in the hands of GK Strategy, but GK Strategy couldn’t even be bothered to issue the press release – handing the grunt (and the blame) to an un named “media distribution partner”.
But it’s not as simple as that; the campaign is being puffed by Dan Hyde and the Daily Mail’s This is Money campaign.
They’ve gone live on the story here. The Mail has at least included a statement to the effect that this whole thing’s being paid for by DRB and orchestrated by GK Strategy.
The six MPs who have signed up to the campaign include Ruth George who is on the W&P Select Committee. Do they properly understand that this is being bankrolled by
DRB Capital is the second largest, and one of the most trusted purchasers of annuity payments in the United States
Tell us the truth
I guess in Washington, this kind of fake news is considered part of the lobbying process. But not here! This falls into the kind of inept summer solipsism of the Investment Association’s infamous Loch Ness Monster campaign.
The 5m people who are being stirred to action by Masterton are simply the sheep for DRB’s lamb dinner.
Journalists, who generally don’t have time on hot days like this to read the small print, may actually be publishing this rot as if it were a real campaign. Perhaps the backing of Masterton will be enough to make it a story.
But this is not a proper story, this is Fake News, a put-up job by an American firm looking to make a buck on this side of the pond.
Cease and desist – this is phoney engagement. Daily Mail, this is a put up job!
For the sake of completeness, here is the full press release.
CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED TO END INJUSTICE FOR 5 MILLION RETIREES
- 5 million retirees stuck in the annuity trap with no reform in sight
- The Your Pension Your Choice campaign has been launched to fight for full pension freedoms for all retirees
Wednesday 25th July: Today, the Your Pension Your Choice campaign has been launched to urge the Government to revise the rules that unfairly trap 5 million retirees in the UK. The campaign is calling for all retirees, no matter when they retired, to have the same pension freedoms.
For the 5 million pensioners that retired before April 2015, they do not have the same pension freedoms as those who retired after; they were forced to buy an annuity – which is an insurance product that pays out a monthly income to retirees for the rest of their lives. But these annuities are often low paying and restrict the ability of retirees to access their pension pot for emergency reasons, e.g. for vital housing repairs, social care costs or helping to put grandchildren through university.
Injustice for 5 million retires
The Government’s Pension Freedoms law, introduced in 2015, gave those who retired after April 2015 greater freedoms. This enabled new retirees to purchase an annuity, invest in a drawdown account or cash out their entire pension pot. Since its introduction, savers have cashed in £9.2 billion from their pension pots.
But despite this positive step, the Government are still denying pension freedoms to people that retired before April 2015. In the last Parliament, the Government agreed to extend freedoms to this cohort, only to then U-turn on their plans. It recently said it has “no plans to review this decision”.
The Your Pension Your Choice campaign aims to draw attention to this injustice and encourage the Government to reverse its decision so that the forgotten five million are given full pension freedoms.
To mark the start of the campaign, a Change petition has been launched to gather public support, while a cross-party group of MPs led by Scottish Conservative MP, Paul Masterton, have launched an Early Day Motion in Parliament.
The campaign’s website, www.yourpensionyourchoice.co.uk, is urging the public to sign the petition, write to their local MP and share their stories.
Commenting, Paul Masterton MP for East Renfrewshire said:
“Freedom and choice was a revolutionary pension policy which allowed individuals greater flexibility to tailor how they received retirement income to better fit their circumstances.
“But because the Government has backtracked on a promise to extend that ability to individuals who retired before the changes came into place, more than 5 million people are losing out on the ability to access their pension pots in the way they please.
“Many of them are now stuck with very small, poor value annuities which aren’t their main retirement income and provide no meaningful benefit.
I welcome the launch of this new campaign and look forward to working with them to make the case to Government for this vital change.”