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Pensions Ombudsman flooded with 71% increase in complaints

THE Pensions Ombudsman has been swamped with complaints from the public -- with many people deeply worried about the current value of their pensions.

Ombudsman Paul Kenny confirmed yesterday that 1,760 new complaints were received in 2009 -- a 71 per cent increase on 2008.

Because of the massive increase in workload, Mr Kenny said that his Office put much more emphasis on giving early advice to both sides in a dispute and mediating settlements, rather than letting the dispute develop to a stage where formal investigation and determination is required.

In terms of categories of investigations undertaken, the largest number was in relation to calculation of benefits (113) and the biggest increase related to investigations about fund values which more than doubled from 34 to 84 in 2009.

Mr Kenny said he felt that the enormous increase in complaints in 2008 and 2009 might begin to level off.

"The massive shocks to the pensions industry and the widespread publicity which resulted meant that people were much more aware of the need to monitor their pension arrangements very carefully," he said.

"The old practice of leaving the pension to look after itself is now well and truly buried and I am very pleased that the level of interest and understanding in the area has grown enormously. Vigilance is key", he added.

Sunday Independent