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Delays top pension freedoms complaints list

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Delays and paying for advice were the two most common reasons people accessing their pension cash complained to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) received 4,495 complaints about pensions in general, of which 440 were specifically about pension freedoms.

Of that number, 24% of complaints were about delays such as receiving the money later than expected or due to incorrect paperwork being sent out.

FOS figures also show that 15% of complaints were from people about the requirement to get financial advice.

One of the new rules around pensions is that providers have to ensure their customers with valuable pensions get regulated financial advice before being able to access them. This applies to those who have “safeguarded” benefits worth £30k or more.

Some people were unhappy that they had to pay for advice in order to access their pensions while others said the struggled to find an adviser who was willing to give them advice, meaning their pension provider won’t let them access their pot.

In other complaints received, 14%% was in relation to administration, 13% were about annuities and just over 10% were about the information given about their pension.

The total pension complaints settled by FOS came in at 30% whereas complaints involving pension freedoms settled by an Ombudsman was 6%.

Its average uphold rate across all pension complaints was 51%, with core pensions at 32% while pension freedom was 25%.

Phil Miller, an Ombudsman, said: “The government’s figures suggest around a quarter of a million people accessed their pensions in the first year of the new rules.

“During that time, we’ve dealt with around 1,000 enquiries and around 400 complaints. That suggests that so far, only a fraction of people who’ve used the freedoms have encountered problems, or at least, not things their pension provider hasn’t put right in a way they’re satisfied with.”

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