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06 July 09: 56% Increase in Complaints in first half of 2009

 

  • 56 % Increase in Number of Complaints to Pensions Ombudsman in first half of 2009.
  • Over 7 new complaints received every working day.
  • Parties to complaints more amenable to mediation. 
The Pensions Ombudsman, Mr. Paul Kenny today released data on his caseload for the first half of 2009, showing a massive increase of 56% in the number of complaints received when compared with the same period in 2008. This includes a number which it was possible to close off by telephone or email communication.
 
In the period January-June 2009, a total of 908 new complaints were received, as against 582 for the same period in 2008. Significantly, however, his Office was able to close 942 cases in 2009 as against 439 cases in the same period in 2008 - an increase of 115%. Website hits are also up some 20% on last year.
 
Commenting on the figures Mr. Kenny said;
 
“My Office is now under fairly intense pressure. 2008 saw a 47% increase in the number of new cases – a remarkable increase in itself. The first 6 months of this year has seen complaints increase further, by some 56% compared with the same period last year. This means that we now get over 7 new complaints each working day. However, the good news is that due to a combination of factors including our new Case Management System, increased skill levels within the Office, together with an increased focus on mediation rather than having to go to Final Determination, we have actually reduced the number of live cases on hands, despite these massive increases in complaint numbers. I now have some 440 complaints under investigation at the moment.”
 
Mr. Kenny said that if the parties to a complaint are open to mediation, the case can be closed much quicker than having to go to Final Determination:
 
Now that I have built up a significant caseload history, and people can see that only a tiny number of Final Determinations are appealed to the High Court - none of which have been overturned - they realise that forcing me to Final Determination is usually not in their best interests and agreement is reached”.
 
The Pensions Ombudsman explained that he was not altogether surprised at this large increase in complaints:
            “More and more people are reaching pension age. People are increasingly vigilant on how their pension funds are invested. Companies are switching from defined benefit to defined contribution schemes or a hybrid of the two. People are also much more alive to preserved benefits which they have acquired and how these benefits should be tracked. Such intense focus on pensions issued generally means an increase in my workload”, he said.
 
 
Statistical data 

 Office of the Pensions Ombudsman

Summary Preliminary Results half-year to end June 2008
 
Summary Half Year
 
New Complaints Received
Jan – June, 2008
Jan - June, 2009
%
 
582
908
56%
 
Complaints Closed
Jan – June, 2008
Jan - June, 2009
&
 
439
942
115%
 
 
 
For further information contact Mr. Paul Kenny, Pensions Ombudsman at (01) 647 1650, or see www.pensionsombudsman.ie.
 
6th July, 2009.