Pension complaints hit record high

2003

The number of complaints about pensions have risen to an all time high, increasing by almost a third in the last financial year according to the annual report of the Pensions Ombudsman.

The report shows that complaints rose from 2,946 to 3,891, with the majority occurring in the second half of the year.

Ombudsman David Laverick said that the increase was largely down to high-profile coverage of pensions in the media ands that his office was in danger of being unable to cope with what the called the "the incoming tide" from concerned pension holders.

Mr Laverick said: "The bare facts are that in 2002-2003 I received 3891 enquiries and dealt with 3684.

"The net result is that despite a great deal of hard work from my staff and myself we have been failing to keep up with the incoming tide.

"The position is likely to be even more difficult in the current financial year. That is when the bulk of time needs to be spent on the work taken in last year and so far I have been allocated no additional resources to cope with that work."

The Pensions Ombudsman was established to investigate complaints about the way that pension schemes are run. Under current legislation, complaints about the sales and marketing of pensions are handled by the Financial Ombudsman Service, a situation that is confusing and inefficient, according to Mr Laverick.

"A change to the a law, allowing anyone with a complaint about a pension scheme to come to me without the need for them (and me) to check whether the particular category of complainant is making the right kind of complaint …would be a great deal simpler for the public to understand and for my office to interpret and explain," he said.

"A great deal of work and aggravation would be saved without leading to more than a marginal increase in the number of complaints to be investigated."