Defined Benefit  

Ombudsman flooded with British Steel pension complaints

Ombudsman flooded with British Steel pension complaints

The Pensions Ombudsman has received more than a hundred complaints from members of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS).

The steelworkers complained about matters to do with the scheme, not the advice received on any pension transfers, a spokesperson for the ombudsman said.

It is currently categorising the complaints according to the area they fall in, she added.

The 130,000 members of the failed scheme have about three weeks to decide whether to move their defined benefit (DB) pension pots to a new plan being created, BSPS II, or stay in the current fund, which will be moved to the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).

Of the members, 43,000 are deferred, which means transferring out of their pension is also an option for them.

It is alleged that thousands of members didn't receive all the information necessary about their pensions to be able to make an informed decision on the matter.

FTAdviser reported last week that several steelworkers appeared to be transferring out their pensions after being lured by cheap deals by unregulated introducer firm Celtic Wealth Management & Financial Planning, which then referred the clients to advice firm Active Wealth.

The Work & Pensions select committee is due to question financial advisers about the advice given to steelworkers to transfer their defined benefit pensions out of the scheme.

Pensions expert and founder of Pension Playpen, Henry Tapper, and Al Rush, principal at Rutland-based Echelon Wealthcare, visited Port Talbot to speak to the scheme members and found there was little evidence of financial advisers suggesting anything other than transfers to the individuals.

Mr Tapper will be attending the Westminster hearing with two members of the British Steel Pension Scheme.

Mr Rush is meanwhile organising a voluntary help and counselling exchange for the members to be held on 11 and 12 December in Port Talbot, Corby, Shotton, Scunthorpe and Llanwern.

The goal of these sessions is to help steelworkers make a decision about their pension or clarify any doubts from those that have already transferred out their pots.

Commercial activities will be forbidden in the face-to-face meetings, however, so no regulated financial advice will be given, though this could be arranged between the parties at a later date.

carmen.reichman@ft.com