WHEN the UK Government announced its reforms to the pension market last year, many critics – this newspaper among them – warned that handing savers greater freedom to choose how and when to access their pensions carried considerable risks - the most dangerous of them being the risk of a repeat of the PPI scandal.

The reforms, which came into force in April this year, aimed to replace the old system under which people were required to buy an annuity with a new system giving them greater freedom, including the option of taking their pension as cash. In principle, it was a perfectly fine idea – people should be free to spend their money the way they want to - but the pension market is complex and risky and, from the beginning, the danger was that pensioners might fall victim to scammers or make decisions that were bad for them financially.

The Government seemed to recognise this danger and promised that, to prevent it happening, savers would be provided with free advice. A new service, Pension Wise, was established which provides support to savers when they are ready to access their pension pots in the form of one 45-minutes guidance session in person and more general information on its website.

Ten months into the changes, it is hard to tell in detail how Pension Wise and other elements of the reforms are working, although it would appear that consumers have largely taken sensible decisions and, as yet, there is no evidence of a spike in fraud. Fear of a "Lamborghini effect" – in other words, pensioners blowing their cash all at once and leaving them with nothing to live on – also appears to be wide of the mark; the insurer Aegon said recently that nobody was cashing in their money and going out to buy a fast car.

But the lack of evidence of widespread problems does not necessarily mean the system is working well, as it may take many years for pensioners to realise they have made the wrong decision or been defrauded. In its report on the reforms published today, the Commons' Work and Pensions Committee draws attention to this problem and calls on the Government to do more to track how consumers get on in the years to come. It is a sensible suggestion and the Government should act quickly to address the shortage of information on its reforms.

The Government should also act on the other recommendations in the report, particularly on potential fraud. The figures on how many pensioners have been cheated may not emerge for years, but the reforms have undoubtedly increased the potential for scamming, and that means the Government needs to ensure it is doing as much as it can on anti-scam publicity.

But most importantly, the Government must keep a close watch on how the reforms are unfolding. It is all very well to say that people should be given responsibility for their own pensions, but responsibility without guidance or knowledge is risky and there is some evidence that many savers are cashing in their pots without realising the full tax implications. We are still in the very early days of these reforms, but they need monitoring to ensure that when and if problems do arise, they will be spotted immediately and dealt with.