British Steel Jul 5 2021

Fos receives more than 300 British Steel complaints

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Fos receives more than 300 British Steel complaints

The Financial Ombudsman Service has received 319 cases from British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) members complaining about administration issues and poor advice to transfer out of their scheme.

According to the Fos, along with the 319 cases it has already received, it has a further 74 cases in the pipeline which are awaiting additional information.

Of these complaints, 69 have been resolved while 137 cases have been referred to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

According to the Fos many of the complaints relate to administration issues, while some are about the advice to transfer out.

Last week (June 21), Nick Smith, MP for Blaenau Gwent, wrote to the Fos setting out his concerns that BSPS cases were not being resolved quickly enough and questioning what plans it had to speed up progress.

Smith complained that of the hundreds of complaints the Fos had received only a few had reached a final decision while some had not received an initial investigator decision to date.

He argued the Fos quickening its decision-making could give more steelworkers the confidence to come forward.

It was not the first time the Fos had come under fire for its complaints handling. Earlier this year (March 11), Caroline Wayman stepped down as CEO of the Fos after it was revealed that the ombudsman faced a backlog of 158,000 complaints.

According to Money Mail, one in six complaints were over a year old and 11,648 dated back more than two years.

BSPS debacle

BSPS members were asked to decide by December 2017 whether to move their DB pension to a new plan, BSPS2, or stay in the existing fund, which was then moved to the PPF as part of a restructuring of pension liabilities.

As a result about 8,000 members transferred out of the old scheme, with transfers collectively worth about £2.8bn.

But concerns about the suitability of the transfers were soon raised, leading to an intervention from the FCA that resulted in 10 companies – key players in the debacle – stopping their transfer advice service.

Some of these companies regained their permissions some months later, but others, such as Active Wealth, went into liquidation, and claims against it have already arrived at the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

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