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Britain not ready for pension changes, insurance body says

[LONDON] Britain's government and regulators are not ready for pension reforms, six weeks ahead of their launch date, the head of the insurance body said.

Reforms due to come into force on April 6 will allow retirees to use their pension pots as they choose, with no obligation to buy an annuity, which gives an income for life. "The government has simply not been able to deliver enough at this stage to ensure the reforms have a flying start when they go live," Huw Evans, director-general of the Association of British Insurers said in prepared remarks to be delivered at a conference on Wednesday. "Critical pieces of the jigsaw are still missing and will not be in place in time." Mr Evans said the pensions industry was still awaiting rules from the Financial Conduct Authority on how pensions providers were able to communicate with customers.

Some tax rules needed to be finalised and there was no phone number for the government's guidance service, Pension Wise, Mr Evans added.

Industry observers say the reforms - announced a year ago - give pensioners more choice, but have been introduced with haste.

Mr Evans, who took on the role of director-general this month, said he saw "no point in a blame game". He said April 6 was only the start of the new pension freedoms, adding: "People should not be rushed into making quick decisions about pension savings they may have accumulated over 30 years."