Warning over pension scams


Those approaching retirement are being urged to be aware of a rise in pension scams, as criminals seek new ways to defraud pensioners.

Savers have been urged to be aware of a rise in pension scams, as criminals seek new ways to defraud pensioners. A report produced by Citizens Advice looked at 150 cases where pensioners had fallen victim to fraudsters. The report identified common types of scams which include:

  • encouraging pensioners to move their savings into a ‘new’ pension
  • fake investment opportunities and
  • offering apparently ‘free advice’ and support which actually costs money.

In some cases pensioners are charged a fee for a service that isn’t required, while others are encouraged to part with personal information and bank details, either by email or phone.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice said: 

‘Scammers see pensioners as a prime target… ‘There are many people looking to benefit from the new pension rules, including scammers. Fraudsters can ruin people’s retirement plans by taking a portion or all of a victim’s pension pots.’

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has recently launched a campaign to alert people to the danger posed by fraudsters.

From 6 April 2015 individuals have more flexibility as to how they use their pension pot, including the option to choose to take all their savings as a cash lump sum. TPR has warned that scammers are exploiting this change by enticing those about to retire with promises of ‘one-off investments’ or ‘pension loans’ or ‘upfront cash’, most of which are bogus.
Individuals who believe they are being targeted by a pension scam should contact the Pensions Advisory Service on 0300 123 1047. The Financial Conduct Authority’s website also has a list of known scams. Visit scamsmart.fca.org.uk.

Internet link: Citizens Advice publications Press release

Latest labour market statistics


The Office for National Statistics has issued the latest labour market data for the three months to February 2015 which show that unemployment fell by 76,000 to 1.84 million.

Neil Carberry, CBI Director for Employment and Skills said:

‘It’s great to see 248,000 more people in work, the fastest rise in employment in just under a year – thanks to our flexible jobs market.

With real wage growth rising people have a little more money in their pockets. But we need to see a recovery in productivity before wages can rise faster.’

Internet links: ONS statistics  CBI news

Parliamentary processes


With the political parties campaigning well underway in anticipation of the General Election on 7 May and Parliament having been prorogued there are few Government announcements to report this month. However by the time we issue next month’s eNews we will have a new Parliament.

For details of the relevant dates and formal procedures visit the following link.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Farmers Averaging of Profits


It was announced in the March 2015 Budget that the government plans to extend the period over which self-employed farmers can average their profits for income tax purposes from two years to five years. The government has launched a consultation which considers ways in which the extension could be designed and implemented.

The change to the averaging rules is expected to come into effect from 6 April 2016.

Internet link: GOV.UK farmers averaging

Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme


The Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS) is being introduced on 1 October 2015 by HMRC to tackle alcohol fraud. HMRC are advising that if you are an alcohol wholesaler or trade buyer, you need to prepare for the new registration scheme now.

Who the scheme applies to

HMRC are advising that the AWRS will apply to existing, and new, wholesalers of alcohol, trading at or after the point at which excise duty has become payable. In addition all businesses that trade in or retail alcohol will in future need to make sure that any UK wholesalers that they buy from are registered with HMRC. The types of business who will be affected include:

  • alcohol wholesalers
  • brokers
  • auctioneers
  • alcohol retailers.

The scheme will not apply to private individuals purchasing alcohol from retailers.

HMRC are advising that:

  • from 1 October 2015, all alcohol wholesalers must apply online to HMRC to register for AWRS
  • from 1 January 2016 HMRC will start to review all AWRS applications to decide whether businesses are ‘fit and proper’ to be accepted onto the register. Where a business fails the ‘fit and proper’ test, HMRC will remove its right to trade in wholesale alcohol
  • from 1 April 2017, all businesses that trade in, or retail, alcohol will need to make sure that any UK wholesalers that they buy from are registered with HMRC. HMRC will provide an online look up service so that trade buyers can ensure wholesalers they buy from are registered with HMRC.

Internet link: GOV.UK AWRS