UK - Complaints accusing government departments of maladministration over pensions advice are being investigated by the parliamentary ombudsman.
The complaints focus on assurances by the Treasury, the department for work and pensions, the Financial Services Authority and the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority that occupational pension schemes carried no risk for members.
Workers who have since lost pensions savings when their firms collapsed have contacted their MPs who have appealed to the parliamentary ombudsman, Ann Abraham, on their behalf. If Abraham agrees with the appeal, she has the power to force the government to compensate victims either separately or by increasing the £400m package it unveiled in May.
London School of Economics governor and former government pensions advisor Ros Altmann – who has submitted six pages of evidence to Abraham – said that unlike legal action, the ombudsman procedure was free and was likely to take months rather than years.
Altmann said: “The case we are asking the ombudsman to investigate is that the government and its various departments failed in their duty to ensure that members were protected.
“The FSA is pursuing companies who described products as ‘low risk’ when investors subsequently lost money and is asking them to pay compensation.
“The actions of the government amount to mis-selling of employer pensions in an even worse manner. Employer schemes were not described as ‘low risk’ – they were described as ‘no risk’, yet members lost all their money.”
An OPRA spokesman said: “It would be fair to say that people used terms like ‘guaranteed’ far too casually in the past but that was because they lacked the ability to foresee future events such as tax changes and the stock market crash.”
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