The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) today publishes a research report which presents the findings from an evaluation of The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) workplace visits. The evaluation sought to provide assurance that the funding provided for the visits by DWP is being used effectively.
The main findings were as follows:
TPAS workplace visits have a balanced and useful content and are well delivered. In particular the independence and personalised content and delivery offered by TPAS were valued by both the hosts and attendees.
The workplace visits are meeting their aim of explaining to individuals how best they can plan for their retirement, and they appear to be inspiring people to do more, for example to budget for retirement and seek more information. However, intentions expressed by attendees questioned were not always being carried through to actions within the timescales of this study.
The cost efficiency of the visits is favourable when compared with that estimated for the workplace visits provided under the now discontinued Pensions Education Fund. This will improve further if TPAS meet their objective of maintaining the number of visits in 2010/11 while reducing their costs, mainly through increased use of volunteers.
However, visits are not cheap and cannot reach all the people who would benefit from them. It is therefore important that they are focused where they can deliver most value for money. Improving value for money will depend on improving targeting, scaling up while retaining quality of service, and extending the reach of the visits to engage with harder to reach groups.
The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) is an independent non-profit organisation, funded by grant-in-aid from the Department for Work and Pensions, which provides free information and guidance to members of the public on a wide range of pensions matters. The service provided by TPAS is sustained by a nationwide network of volunteer advisors supported and augmented by technical and administrative staff. All advisors are pensions professionals with experience in the pensions industry.
Workplace visits have been running since the start of 2009/10. TPAS were expected to have undertaken around 280 visits, involving 90 host organisations, in all parts of the UK by the end of the year. Although most were delivered by TPAS in the early part of the year, over 140 volunteers were recruited through the year and most were being delivered by volunteers towards the end of the year.
The main aim of the visits is to explain to individuals _in situ _in the workplace how best to go about planning for retirement. Generic information on pensions and retirement planning is usually augmented by information tailored to the workplace host.
The main research method was a series of case studies of host organisations (13 in all) involving interviews with and written feedback from attendees, and interviews with hosts and TPAS presenters. These were supplemented by TPAS management information on the number of attendees and visits in 2009/10.