Pensions Ombudsman  

Pension transfer complaints rise as liberation gripes fall

Pension transfer complaints rise as liberation gripes fall

New investigations into pension transfer complaints have increased, while the number of pension liberation disputes have fallen significantly.

The Pension Ombudsman has recorded a slight increase in complaints about pension transfers, including the calculation or payment of transfer values, with that type of gripe making up 10.5 per cent of complaints it dealt with last year.

With the Ombudsman accepting 1,333 complaints in 2016, the number of transfer related cases under consideration stood at 140.

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Pension liberation complaints, which accounted for almost 16 per cent of complaints and topped the list of complaints in 2015/16, have now fallen to under 8 per cent. 

Complaints about the failure of pension schemes to provide information or to act on instructions have replaced pension liberation complaints as the sector’s most investigated problem. This category provided 12.5 per cent, or 167 cases.

After transfers, misquotes or misinformation was the most complained about issue, with 10 per cent of complaints investigated.

Ill health, pension liberation, benefits: incorrect calculation, death benefits, benefits and refusal or failure to pay or late payments, followed by benefits and over-payment, and finally administration made up the top ten. 

In total, the Pensions Ombudsman was contacted by 6,121 people who thought the service would be able to offer assistance, with 70 per cent taking advantage of the online application service.

The most common reason for a complaint not being taken up by the Ombudsman was that it fell outside of the time limit for complaints. The other most prevalent reason was that matter had not been taken up with the party the complainant had an issue with.

The Ombudsman revealed 33 per cent of accepted complaints were either fully or partly upheld. The average time to complete a new investigation was 10 months, and 1,404 investigations were completed in the year, 7 per cent than in 2015/16. 

The current Pension Ombudsman, Anthony Arter, is entitled to receive a salary of between £130,000 and £135,000 per year, depending on the award of a performance-related bonus.