UK - Record numbers of complaints are swamping the pensions ombudsman's office, which admits it is unable to keep up with casework.
The number of cases deemed within its jurisdiction jumped 30% in the past year to 1187, while inquiries rocketed to 3891 from 3269 – another all-time high.
Pensions ombudsman David Laverick – writing in his annual report – admitted his office was unable to keep up with the current level of casework and blamed the government for failing to provide much needed additional resources.
Laverick said: “The bare facts are that I received 3891 enquiries and dealt with 3684. The net result is that despite a great deal of hard work from my staff and myself we have been failing to keep up with the incoming tide.”
And he warned the position would be even more difficult in the current financial year.
“That is when the bulk of my time needs to be spent on the work taken in last year and so far I have been allocated no additional resources to cope with that work.”
Laverick’s aim to process all new casework within six months also took a hit. Despite the number of cases completed within six months showing a slight increase – up to 27% – the volume of casework lingering on for more than a year was far greater at 35%.
Laverick said he was “pleased to note” the amount of litigation involving his office had been “much reduced”.
But lawyers accused Laverick of simply avoiding the more polemical cases.
Linklaters pensions litigation partner Mark Blyth said: “The difficult and contentious cases are the ones that haven’t been processed.
“I have a number of cases where the parties have simply settled because neither party can handle the delay any more. He is storing up litigation for the future.”
Eversheds head of pensions Giles Orton agreed. “Some of the harder cases seem to be going nowhere fast.
“And apart from not deciding the harder cases he is not contesting the appeals.”
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