UK - Lawyers have lambasted the delay-ridden pensions ombudsman's office for rapping a government department for taking too long to handle a claim.
They say it is a “bit rich” of ombudsman, David Laverick, to issue a reprimand over delays when they are endemic at his own office.
Laverick took the “unprecedented” step of fining the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for refusing to consider a benefits claim from Local Government Pension Scheme member Mrs Giblen.
Giblen, who worked for Birmingham City Council’s housing department, went on stress-related sick leave in February 2000. The council refused to award her temporary injury benefits and she appealed to deputy prime minister John Prescott – as head of the scheme – to reverse the decision.
Giblen went to the ombudsman after the ODPM ruled it did not have the authority to alter the council’s decision.
The ombudsman said that Prescott’s refusal to look at the claim was maladministration and that both he and the council should pay compensation for the delay.
But lawyers point out that the ombudsman’s office has been swamped by a record number of complaints since Laverick took office and has been unable to keep up with the case work.
Association of Pensions Lawyers litigation committee chairman and Eversheds head of pensions Giles Orton said:
“The secretary of state is being ordered to pay up for mishandling and so delaying an appeal. Will the ombudsman award compensation against himself when his own decisions are delayed?”
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