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04 Mar 08: Pensions Ombudsman reports significant increase in case activity in 2007


  • New cases received up 17% in 2007 and up 73% up in 3 years from 2004;
  • Cases closed up 90% in 2007 and up 376% in last three years;
  • Cases on hand down at year end 2007 down 16% on previous year:
  • Construction industry repaying over €1.6m in arrears in pension and death benefit

 Mr. Paul Kenny, the Pensions Ombudsman, today issued overall preliminary figures on activity by his Office during 2007. These figures, which will be further analysed in his formal Annual Report to the Minister for Social and Family Affairs later in the year, show significantly increased contact between his Office and the general public in 2007.

The Pensions Ombudsman investigates and decides on complaints and disputes that an individual has suffered a financial loss because of some failure in the administration of an occupational pension schemes or Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs). He is completely independent and impartial.

515 new cases were received in 2007 as compared with 439 in 2006, an increase of 17%. However, he and his office succeeded in closing 584 cases in 2007, an increase of 90% on 2006, thereby reducing the number of cases outstanding.

Commenting on the results, Mr. Kenny said that the figures demonstrated an increasing awareness among the public of the need to check carefully on their pension entitlements and on the role that his Office can play in resolving disputes in this area. “One thing that is increasing clear from my casework is how vital it is for people to be crystal clear on their pension entitlements as they progress through their working life. Unfortunately there are many cases referred to me where the rules of the pension scheme were strictly observed, usually meaning that the complainant was under a misapprehension as to entitlement. This becomes particularly acute when people are making decisions in relation to such matters as early retirement.” Said Mr. Kenny. “On the other hand, however, there are cases where the administrators or trustees have been remiss in their management of schemes, or have not adequately advised members of the impact of changes in rules. In these cases, I am empowered to make good the loss to the pensioner”, he said.

Commenting in terms of financial redress brought about in respect of complainants, Mr. Kenny pointed to the construction industry where his Office has been responsible for over €840,000 being collected in respect of outstanding pension/death benefit contributions, with over €820,000 in the course of collection. “Unfortunately the construction industry, particularly the smaller construction company, has been the focus of many complaints about non-compliance with the mandatory Construction Workers Pension Scheme and my Office continues to receive complaints about a scheme which is widely know throughout the industry.

With the increased numbers working and consequently retiring, the complexity of modern pension products and rules and the increased mobility of the workforce, Mr. Kenny foresees a busy time for his Office in the years ahead.

A summary of caseload is appended. For further information, contact Mr. Paul Kenny, Ombudsman, at 01 6471653/01.6471650 or see www.pensionsombudsman.ie

ENDS 4 th March, 2008

Office of the Pensions Ombudsman

Summary Results to end-December 2007

Summary

Cases Received

Cases Received

2004

2005

2006

2007

TOTAL

297

389

439

515

 

There is an increase of 17% in new cases received Jan to December 2007 over the same period in 2006.

 

Cases Closed

Cases Closed

2004

2005

2006

2007

TOTAL

122

385

307

584

 

There is an increase of 90% in cases closed to end- December’07 over the same period in 2006.

 

Summary

Summary

2004

2005

2006

2007

On hand at start of year

112

287

291

423

Received to end December

297

389

439

515

Total Cases at end Dec

409

676

730

938

Closed to end December

122

385

307

584

Total On Hand at end Dec

287

291

423

354

 

On Hand

A total of 354 cases were on-hand at the end of December ‘07 compared to 423 on hand at end December’06, a decrease of 16%.

Closed Cases

A total of 584 cases have been closed to end- December’07 compared to 307 to the end of December ’06, an increase of 90%.