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22 Jan 09: Pensions Ombudsman reports on 2008 caseload:

Pensions Ombudsman reports on 2008 caseload:
Significant Increase in Case Activity in 2008
Warning that “despite commercial pressures, pension contributions are not a source of temporary cashflow”

  • New cases received up 43 % on 2007.
  • Some 450 cases currently under investigation.
  • Cases closed in 2008 up 10% per cent.
  • Website hits now over ⅓ million annually

Mr. Paul Kenny, the Pensions Ombudsman, today issued provisional figures on the caseload in his Office during 2008. These figures, which will be further analysed in his formal Annual Report to the Minister for Social & Family Affairs later in the year, show a significant increase in complaints by the public to his Office last year.

737 new cases were received in 2008 as compared with 515 in 2007, an increase of 43 per cent. In addition, 354 cases were carried forward from 2007 giving a total of 1,091 cases for the year. With 643 cases finalised in 2008, the number of cases carrying into 2009 is 448, an increase of 27 per cent.

“While there have been increases across most of the categories of complaint, a significant element to emerge from the 2008 data is the increase in the number of complaints relating to Remittance of Contributions – where 101 cases were received last year as opposed to just 35 in the previous year, an increase of almost 200%. These are cases alleging that pension deductions were made from wages but then not passed on by the employer to the pension company. The majority of these were in small construction companies”, Mr. Kenny said.

“With the increasingly difficult economic climate for business, it is vital that companies are not tempted to regard pension deductions as a source of temporary cashflow. These deductions are not, and must never be regarded by a company as part of their funding arrangements. These funds are the exclusive property of the employees and are not available to a company for any purpose”, Mr. Kenny emphasised.

Commenting on the overall figures, Mr. Kenny said that the number of complaints received by his Office has increased very significantly, year on year, since its establishment in 2003. Our total caseload since 2003 now stands at over 2,500. This reflects an increasing awareness amongst the public of pensions issues generally, and also their own personal rights and arrangements.

Under the Pensions Act 1990, as amended, 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 scheme or a Personal Retirement Savings Account (PRSA). He is completely independent and impartial.

Office of the Pensions Ombudsman
Summary Preliminary Results to end-December 2008

 

Summary New Cases
New Cases Recied
2003/4
2005
2006
2007
2008
TOTAL
452
389
439
515
737

There is an increase of 43.1% in new cases received Jan to December 2008 over the same period in 2007.

Summary Cases Closed
Cases Closed
2003/4
2005
2006
2007
2008
TOTAL
165
385
307
584
643

There is an increase of 10.1% in cases closed to end- December’08 over the same period in 2007.

Summary
Summary 2003 2004 2004 2006 2007 2008
On hand at start of year
 
112
287
291
423
354
Received to end of December
155
297
389
439
515
737
Total cases to end of December
155
409
676
730
938
1091
Closd to end December
43
122
385
307
584
643
Total on hand at end December
122
287
291
423
354
448

 

On Hand
A total of 448 cases were on-hand at the end of December ‘08 compared to 354 on hand at end December’07, an increase of 26.6%.
For further information contact Mr. Paul Kenny, Pensions Ombudsman at (01) 647 1650,

or see www.pensionsombudsman.ie.

ENDS 22 January, 2009.