Old British Steel Pension Scheme (PO-18982)
2. Open Trustees Limited
Mr G’s complaint is as follows:-
Communications in respect of the OBSPS were misleading and scaremongering;
Early retirement factors (ERFs) applied to his pension were unfair and could not have been calculated correctly. The Trustee changed the ERFs with effect from 1 April 2017, significantly reducing the rate for anyone who retired after the change. Mr G says that the Trustee’s explanation does not account for such a substantial change, and therefore the rate applied before the change must be incorrect. He suggests that the Trustee has not acted in the members’ best interests as the change must have had a detrimental impact on the OBSPS’ funding position; and
The statement of entitlement within his leaver pack, which showed the Cash Equivalent Transfer Value (CETV) that he was entitled to take should he decide to transfer his benefits out of the OBSPS, was incorrect as the CETV calculation basis was also changed with effect from 1 April 2017, and CETVs increased significantly as a consequence of that change.
Summary of the Ombudsman’s Determination and reasons
The complaint is not upheld against the Trustee because:-
The information the Trustee provided members in relation to the OBSPS’ future was not misleading, nor did it amount to ‘scaremongering’. Furthermore, I do not consider that the Trustee intended it to be so. Instead, the information provided was necessary to keep members abreast of developments so that they could consider how the scenarios might affect them. It was to provide factual information. I have found no maladministration in respect of the announcements and information provided.
The Trustee has obtained and considered the appropriate advice from suitable parties in order to reach its decisions in respect of: the OBSPS; its future; the Statement of Investment Principles (SIP); ERFs; and the CETV calculation basis. I find that the relevant factors had been considered and the decisions reached were not perverse.
The ERFs applicable at the point of Mr G’s early retirement was a matter for the Trustee and so any pension calculation correctly applying those ERFs was not maladministration. I have not found any error in the calculation of his retirement benefits.
The Rules that govern the OBSPS do not provide that a pension in payment shall be recalculated if the ERFs are changed at a future date. Nor is it reasonable to expect the Trustee to recalculate early retirement pensions in payment and increase such payment (or conversely, as the case may be, decrease such payments).
I do not find that the CETV statement that Mr G received, was incorrect. It was calculated using the agreed basis at the point of the calculation.
The notification requirements in respect of the OBSPS, with regard to this complaint, were either met or not applicable. Moreover, the fact that Mr G only became aware of future changes after retirement does not amount to maladministration.
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