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Carillion pension and data complaints: the week in news

Carillion pension and data complaints: the week in news

As we debate the merits of a bridge over the Channel, our friends across the pond have this week been discussing how well the US president knew a porn star called Stormy Daniels

For those of you who have been distracted by these issues, and I gather there's a lot of research material available on the latter, then it's time for the week in news.

1) Deja vu all over again

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Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the news, with updates about British Steel dying down, along comes another defined benefit pension scheme to make you think twice.

After unsuccessful talks with its lenders and the UK government, on Monday construction company Carillion made an application to the High Court for compulsory liquidation. The accountancy firm PwC has been appointed as administrator.

The company, one of the UK government's biggest contractors, had 13 final salary schemes in the UK with more than 28,500 members, and a deficit of £587m at the end of July.

These will now enter the Pension Protection Fund, with the exact size of the impact on the PPF estimated to be well in excess of half a billion pounds.

Inevitably this has led to signs that scammers may be circling the company’s DB scheme members.

Pensions expert and founder of Pension Playpen, Henry Tapper, said adverts were already appearing on Google about final salary pension transfers that catered specifically for Carillion pension members.

Meanwhile tade union Prospect has warned Carillion pensioners might lose retirement payments following the government contractor's collapse, since these are not made through the company's pension funds.

2) Data-day complaints

Predictions from experts haven't gone very well in recent years, but that hasn't stopped chief ombudsman Caroline Wayman.

She appeared before the Treasury Select Committee this week and was asked to predict what she thought might be the next cause of a large number of complaints after payment protection insurance dies down.

Ms Wayman predicted the use of customer data would cause the next surge, saying the greater use of client data made it easier to access financial services but warned this also came with drawbacks.

She said: "There are quite a few areas of our work where you see the convenience versus security as a real inherent tension.

"Faster payments is something that, on the whole, people welcome and it is great that you are not waiting however many days for cheques to clear.

"It is great, mostly, that you can take out a loan very quickly through a few clicks on your phone but there is also with that greater convenience there is also the flip side of that, when things go wrong and the need to protect against things going wrong and how people use their data."

Ms Wayman also defended the Financial Ombudsman Service from the poor feedback given by its staff in a recent survey.

She acknowledged that staff at the Fos had been unhappy in recent months, but said this was because of the change taking place at the organisation.