General Insurance Article - Comments on the Queens Speech at the Opening of Parliament

Comments from Phoenix Group, Aegon and Royal London comment on the Queens Speech at the State Opening of Parliament

 Yvonne Collins, Head of Financial Crime Prevention at Phoenix Group, comments: “It is positive that the Government has chosen to push forward with the Online Safety Bill and reintroduce it. We have been calling for this throughout the consultation as we believe it is urgently needed to protect society, with unlicensed financial promotions and fake ads targeting the most vulnerable and we welcome its passing. It was crucial that the measures to crack down on fraudulent online advertising were not watered down.
 “In the current climate with the cost of living crisis we are concerned that criminals could try and target vulnerable victims online and protection is now essential to be put in place to protect consumers and prevent the ability of fraudsters to scam the public. This legislation should ensure platforms and search engines step up and put proportionate systems and processes in place. At the same time we urge people to remain vigilant of any offers of unrealistically high financial returns or free pension reviews which are often too good to be true. Taking the time to check that a website is secure before sharing personal details, inspecting the URL, or simply asking whether a deal sounds realistic could stop you being a scammed.”

 Steven Cameron, Pensions Director at Aegon, said: “The inclusion of the Financial Services Bill, coupled with the Brexit Freedoms Bill, in the Queen’s Speech paves the way for helpful changes to how financial services are regulated and in turn the services firms can offer to customers.

 “As we face the cost of living crisis, individuals will need more support than ever to make the most of their finances. Many already benefit from financial advice, but for some this may be disproportionately expensive. Current rules make it very difficult for firms to offer anything between generic information and full regulated advice. As we adjust to a UK outside of the EU, there’s an opportunity to move away from EU regulations and open up new forms of support, allowing the financial services industry to help more people. We’re strongly in favour of regulated firms being able to offer a more personalised form of guidance, which would nudge them in a positive direction, acting in their interest, without recommending any specific product.

 “Helping customers with the cost of living squeeze is at the heart of the Government’s agenda. Changing regulations to allow new forms of support in managing finances and financial futures would be a big help here, with the added benefit of having zero cost to Government.”

 Jamie Jenkins, director of policy and external affairs at Royal London, said: “As anticipated, there was little in the way of pensions news in the Queen’s Speech. In practice, there is no shortage of activity on pensions with a national awareness campaign starting later this year, followed by the launch of the first Pensions Dashboard in 2023.

 “However, we do need to consider how we build on the success of automatic enrolment, which reaches its 10-year anniversary later this year. The recommendations of the 2017 review – removing the Lower Earnings Limit on contributions and reducing the minimum entry age to 18 – have still to be firmly planned. It looks increasingly unlikely that this will be implemented by the mid-2020s target.

 “Beyond that, we need to give employers and employees notice if we are to move contribution rates up from their current 8% level, a move which now seems to carry widespread consensus.

 “The cost of living crisis we face today is rightly the focus of attention for now, but we face a bigger cost of living crisis in later life if we don’t start to address the adequacy of pensions saving soon.”

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