Nearly 3,000 members of the NHS Pension Scheme have been sent erroneous pension statements, leading to criticism from the British Medical Association.
The error affects statements dated between April 20 and April 27, and issued on April 28 of this year, and concerns data used in the production of the automated statements.
It was spotted by Graham Crossley, a financial planning consultant and NHS pensions specialist at Quilter, who posted on Twitter about a pension that had an estimated growth of £33,000 with no annual allowance charge, for which the statement issued showed a growth of £77,000 with a £16,000 annual allowance charge.
“Interestingly, I divided [the] 6/4/19 value by 19 - the benefit value is the correct value, but at the wrong time,” he tweeted.
“Move the pound value to 5/4/20, then apply CPI and 6/4/20 becomes £563,116 — which, deducted from 5/4/21, gives our expected £33,000 growth.
“It looks like the data used has corrupted in the statement production process (it wasn’t a manual statement).”
Crossley continued: “I've raised it as an error with [the NHS Business Services Authority, which administers NHS Pensions] and they are looking into it, but if you see a statement where closing value goes down then up — check your record.”
2,800 members affected
NHS Pensions subsequently confirmed in its own tweet that an error had indeed occurred and directed people who received their statements around April 28 2022 to a website providing more information.
On that page, the NHSBSA said it was aware of the error and that it was recalculating and issuing new statements to members “as a precaution”. It added that it was writing directly to affected members.
“Pension savings statements are sent to members who may have an annual allowance charge,” it explained.
“The annual allowance is the maximum amount of tax-free growth an individual’s pension can grow by in one year. This does not affect the majority of NHS Pension Scheme members, who will not receive pension savings statements.”
An NHSBSA spokesperson confirmed to FTAdviser's sister publication Pensions Expert that “just over 2,800 members” received incorrect statements, adding: “We’re continuing to undertake robust checks to confirm that no other dates are affected and we apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.
“We have written directly to all members who may have been affected today to let them know they will be receiving an updated statement.”
BMA claims erroneous tax charges of up to £50,000
Dr Vishal Sharma, BMA pensions committee chair, was critical of the mistake. He said it was “doubly frustrating” in the context of the ongoing dispute over “punitive pension tax arrangements” and what the BMA has criticised as misinformation regarding the merits of delaying retirement, something the government is keen to encourage to deal with the staffing and workload crises impacting the NHS.
“It’s doubly frustrating that a huge number of doctors are not even able to access accurate or timely information about their pensions,” Sharma said.