Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report by Police Foundation and The People’s Pension Protecting People’s Pensions: Understanding and Preventing Scams, published on 7 September, what action they are taking to protect people from pension scams.
Answered by Baroness Stedman-Scott - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
The Government is committed to safeguarding consumer savings and we want individuals to better understand the choices they have and the risks that exist.
Since the introduction of the pension freedoms in 2015, we have made several legislative interventions to tackle scams. The Finance Act 2018 strengthened the HM Revenue & Customs process for registering pension schemes, thereby reducing the risk of fraudulent schemes being established. In 2019, HM Treasury introduced a ban on pension cold calling, to reduce the chance of individual’s being enticed into such schemes. We are now introducing a clause in the Pension Scheme Bill that allows legislation to set conditions on members’ statutory right to transfer, and thereby introduces two additional barriers to protect people. The clause sets examples of the conditions that must be applied to statutory transfers unless requests are to either a firm regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority or an authorised Master Trust. The legislation will require members to confirm they have obtained information or guidance of the associated risks of scams, and still want the transfer to go ahead.
We will also be bringing forward new information requirements from the age fifty to those with defined contribution pension savings, that will inform them in more simplified terms, about their retirement options and the availability of guidance to help with their decisions. We see accessing guidance as a natural part of the journey savers take, before making a decision relating to the pension freedoms. Following the recent trials, which showed a nudge to guidance during the application process is effective, we will be commencing section 19 of the Financial Guidance and Claims Act 2018, which amends the Pension Schemes Act 1993.
The Government has, and will, continue to work with industry and regulators to identify the circumstances that cause most concern (‘red flags’), so that we can determine how best to use legislation that ensures members at high risk are protected.
The Department Work and Pensions (DWP) continues to work with other Government Departments, regulators, enforcement agencies and the pensions industry to monitor the evolution of the methods scammers use and raise awareness of these through coordinated campaigns. The pre-COVID campaign, July – November 2019, resulted in over 222,000 visits to the ScamSmart website, to find out how to identify and report a scam.
DWP has also supported industry initiatives such as the Regulators and Money and Pension Service joint statement, to industry encouraging individuals not to make hasty decisions and endorsed equivalent initiatives by the Pension Protection Fund.
DWP has set out warning signs of scams on social media and made 18 posts referencing Pension Scams and ScamSmart in total across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in the period March to September 2020.
We continue to monitor the situation closely and will take necessary action to protect savers from scams.
Question to the Department for Education:
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many of the apprenticeship standards approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education have had fewer than 10 apprentices enrolled in any year since their approval; and for each of those apprenticeship standards, how many apprentices were signed up in each year since they were approved.
Answered by Baroness Berridge
The table attached shows the list of apprenticeship standards that have had fewer than 10 starts in any academic year since their approval, along with the associated number of starts in each academic year.
Please note that an apprenticeship standard may be approved at any point during the year, however, the starts data relate to apprenticeships that were started within an academic year (August to July), so a standard approved towards the end of the academic year will have fewer starts than if it was approved at the beginning of the year.
Question to the Department for Education:
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Viscount Younger of Leckie on 11 March (HL Deb, cols 831–3), what progress has been made on discussions about a domestic alternative to Erasmus+; and what plans they have to consult with higher education organisations about any such scheme.
Answered by Viscount Younger of Leckie - Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
The government values international exchange and collaboration in education and training as part of its vision for a global Britain. We are open to participation in the successor Erasmus+ scheme (2021/27) though this will ultimately be subject to wider UK-EU negotiations on the future partnership. We are considering a wide range of options with regards to the future of international exchange and collaboration in education and training, including potential domestic alternatives. As part of this process, the Department for Education (DfE) is listening to stakeholder views. We have also noted and are considering the recommendations from the recent House of Lords EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee on the future of Erasmus+.
Further to this, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education and my hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Universities, Science and Innovation meet with representatives of universities regularly to discuss the DfE agenda, and that has included the question of international exchanges following the UK’s exit from the EU.
As we progress our thinking and work on our plans for the possibility of participation in the successor Erasmus+ programme or a domestic alternative, we will continue to engage with and seek the views of sector stakeholders, among others.