UK - Pensions advisory service OPAS is urging the government and providers to work together to restore public confidence in the industry.
OPAS’s latest annual report shows that complaints to its advisory service – excluding its website – jumped 53% last year, as exclusively revealed by IPN’s sister publication, Professional Pensions, in May.
The report – People and Pensions: A Review of OPAS Activities 2002-2003 – showed that recurring themes included closure of final salary schemes, crises of confidence, falling stock market returns, deficiencies on wind-up, transfers and contracting in or out.
The report stated the rise in complaints, “confirmed the sense of grievance that many pension savers feel, whether in a company or personal scheme, about the way they perceive they are being treated”.
Chief executive Malcolm McLean said people must be given the confidence and support necessary to encourage them to save for their old age.
“We would appeal to everyone involved – government and providers alike – to work together to provide a better, more secure, more customer-focused system than has exists to date.”
But McLean stressed that “not everything about pensions is bad news”.
He explained: “The report also includes examples of cases where it was possible with the goodwill and cooperation of the pension scheme itself to resolve a dispute and achieve a settlement acceptable to all parties.”
Liberal Democrat pensions spokesman Steve Webb said the increase in complaints showed the crumbling public confidence in the pensions system and that the government’s Green Paper would do little to turn opinion around.
“The government’s recent announcements will take years to have any effect and in the meantime, problems of the sort described by OPAS can probably only get worse.”
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