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20/08/2014

Pension Liberation – update number 3

The pension liberation cases that we are looking at need very careful consideration - in particular of the detail of the transferring and receiving schemes. We have needed to ask for extra information in most cases – and we need to give the parties the facts and the opportunity to make their own submissions and comment on our possible findings. We recognise that the pensions industry is highly interested to know what the outcomes will be. Unfortunately we are not yet in a position to publish our decisions on any of the cases. We expect to be able to do so in the Autumn.
10/07/2014

Police and Firefighters' pension schemes-update number 15

In update number 14 (02/04/2014) we said that we expected that a preliminary decision would be issued by the Ombudsman in about a month with his views on the likely outcome of the lead complaint. This is taking a little longer than we had hoped and we will provide a further update on the case when we have some more information.
10/07/2014

Annual Report and Accounts

The 2013/14 Annual Report and Accounts of the Pensions Ombudsman (and Pension Protection Fund Ombudsman) were published today, 10 July, and are here. The report includes information on our operational and financial performance as well as case studies with examples of investigations carried out during the year. Key points of note are:

 


Our caseload



  • There was a 10% increase in the number of enquiries we received

  • We took on 1058 cases for investigation, 13% more than expected

  • We completed 1115 investigations.  More than half of these were concluded by our investigators and did not require an ombudsman decision

  • One in three cases decided by an ombudsman was upheld in full or part

  • 80% of our investigations took under a year to complete

  • Cases about the actions of the Pension Protection Fund remained a small part of our work, with 60 new in the year (though a third more than expected)

  • We received about 50 complaints concerning transfers blocked due to alleged pension liberation (with a group about the same receiving scheme). Decisions are expected in summer 2014


Our performance



  • We responded to enquiries within an average of 1 day (our target was 3 days)

  • We decided whether or not we would investigate a complaint in 6.2 weeks on average (our target was 8 weeks)

  • We completed investigations in an average of 9.47 months (our target was 10 months)

  • We completed 1115 investigations compared to 954 in 2012/13


Running the office



  • We stayed well within budget, with costs of £3.18m

  • At the end of the year we had 35 employees


09/06/2014

Pension Liberation – update number 2

In update number 1 (14 February 2014) we said that we hoped to be able to publish decisions on the first of these cases in April or May. They are taking a little longer than we had hoped, and although we are nearing decisions on them, it is unlikely they will be published before July.
28/05/2014

Corporate Plan 2014

We are pleased to present our 2014 Corporate Plan - you will find it on the Publications page
News Archive
14/02/2014

Pension Liberation - update number 1

The Pensions Ombudsman has received a number of complaints about “pension liberation”. Here is some key information about our approach to such cases.

About pension liberation

Pension liberation schemes are bad for people. At the least pension liberation is not in their medium and long term interests and is likely to leave them with a significant penal tax bill. At worst the individual concerned will be participating in a fraud. The public should avoid “advisers” who say that they can arrange for pensions to be accessed before age 55. The people selling these schemes are taking advantage of people’s financial vulnerability in order to make large sums for themselves at the expense of their “customer’s” financial future.

The Pensions Regulator has more information about pension liberation.

What are people complaining to the Pensions Ombudsman about?

Most complaints are from people whose pension provider has not allowed a transfer because the provider believes that its purpose is pension liberation. We have just under 40 complaints in this category. The number has recently risen because of two groups of complaints about transfers to two different arrangements. It would not be right to describe this as a “flood”.

A very much smaller number are from people who did transfer - but into arrangements that were subsequently effectively “frozen” because of regulatory action. We have just a handful of these cases.

The people who complain to us insisting on their right to transfer will tend to be those who know what they are doing, and who believe that they are on the right side of the line. People who find they have been duped or are knowingly acting fraudulently are much less likely to complain that they should be allowed to transfer. So our cases will not represent a true cross section of those affected by pension liberation.

What are the key issues?

The Pensions Regulator has given guidance to pension schemes and pension providers about delaying transfers where it is believed that the destination is not a legitimate pension scheme.

What the pension scheme member is trying to do may be unwise and/or the consequence of exploitation, but the people who complain to us are likely to argue that what they are trying to do is not illegal or improper. They may also say that the pension scheme or provider is mistaken in their belief that the transfer was for the purpose of pension liberation.

What is the Pensions Ombudsman doing with these cases?

When we decide to investigate a complaint, that does not mean we think the person making it has a strong case. We look at almost all complaints that are within jurisdiction, without any view at the start about the chances of success.

We are some way into our investigation of a number of those that we received first. We are looking at them against the legal and regulatory background, being aware, of course, that our decisions may have wider implications for pension scheme members and the pensions industry.

When final decisions have been made, they will be published. The timescale is a little unpredictable because we have to make full enquiries and give the issues careful thought – and the parties have to be given a full opportunity to make their case. However, it is likely that the initial cases will be decided in April/May.
13/06/2013

Tony King reappointed as the Pensions Ombudsman

To see the press release click here
13/07/12

Police and firefighters' pension schemes - update number 3

 

In our update of 21 May 2012 (see “News Archive”) we explained that the judicial review instigated by the Government Actuary’s Department (GAD) was due to be heard in June.


 


The hearing was on 14 June and the judge gave his judgment orally the following day. He said that GAD is fully within our jurisdiction in relation to the complaint made by a firefighter about commutation factors.


 


However, the judge also said that GAD could wait to see the written version of his judgment before they had to decide whether to appeal to the Court of Appeal. The written judgment has now been published and GAD have applied for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal. It is likely to take a few weeks before the court decides whether or not to grant permission. In the meantime we will not be proceeding with the firefighter’s case.


 


There is still no need for members of police or firefighters’ schemes to take any further action and as we have said in previous updates, we plan to use complaints from the ones we have already received as “lead” complaints.


 


If you would like to read the judgment you can find it at http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2012/1796.html



 

18/06/2012

Police and firefighters’ pension schemes – update number 2


In our update of 21 May 20102 (see “News Archive”) we explained that the judicial review instigated by the Government Actuary’s Department (GAD) was due to be heard in June.


The hearing was on 14 June and the judge gave his judgment orally the following day.  He said that GAD is fully with in our jurisdiction in relation to the complaint made by a firefighter about commutation factors. 


However, the judge also said that GAD could wait to see the written version of his judgment before they had to decide whether to appeal to the Court of Appeal.  As this should not take much longer (perhaps a few weeks) we will wait until we know whether GAD intend to appeal before proceeding with the firefighter’s case.


There is no need for members of police or firefighters’ schemes to take any further action at the moment.  As we said in our last update, we plan to use complaints from the ones we have already received as “ lead” complaints.” 



 



 


 


  


 


 

21/05/2012

Police and firefighters’ pension schemes – an update

If you are a retired member of either the firefighters’ or police pension schemes you may be aware of an issue concerning the past factors used to convert pension into lump sums at retirement and whether they should have been reviewed earlier than they were.




We have received a large number of individual complaints about the matter. At present the question of to what extent we can deal with a complaint from a firefighter against the Government Actuary’s Department is the subject of judicial review proceedings. All the other complaints are currently “parked" awaiting the outcome.




The judicial review is due to be heard in mid June. Although it deals with the firefighters’ scheme, a similar issue would arise under the police scheme. If you are a member of either the police of firefighter’s schemes who has not written to us, there is no need to do so. If we are able to investigate, then we will use complaints from the ones we have already received as “ lead” complaints. We plan to provide a further update when the court has dealt with the judicial review application. This may not be immediately after the hearing as it sometimes takes time for judgment to be handed down.

5 February 2009

Overpayment of public sector pensions

You may have seen recent publicity about the overpayment of some public sector pensions. The Pensions Advisory Service has a section on their website dedicated to this which you might find useful if you think you may be affected by this.

View the Overpayment of Public Sector Pensions information here.

27 October 2008

Notice of Hearing

There will be a hearing on 26 (and possibly 27) November 2008 at 11 Belgrave Road London SW1V 1RB as part of the Pensions Ombudsman's investigation of complaints made by Mr R Adams and others against the trustees and the administrators of the ES Group Pension Scheme.

The hearing will be held in public. However, it would be helpful if any member of the public wishing to attend could contact the Pensions Ombudsman's office at least a week in advance so that the necessary security and other arrangements can be made. Attendance may not be possible otherwise.

Requests or enquiries in relation to this hearing should be made to 0207 630 2220 or to enquiries@pensions-ombudsman.org.uk


Pensions Protection Fund

The Pensions Ombudsman is also the Pension Protection Fund Ombudsman >>