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Altmann attacks Abraham as pension probe is delayed

‘How can we restore confidence if people are left begging and fighting for the pensions they were told were safe?’

Independent pension consultant Ros Altmann has slammed the Parliamentary Ombudsman for further delaying the publication of the report into possible Government maladministration of occupational pension scheme wind-ups.

Parliamentary Ombudsman Ann Abraham has sent a letter to MPs and complainants saying that due to the comp- lexities of factors under consideration, the report is to be put back again following an initial summer delay and is now to be published before the March 2006 recess.

Dr Altmann questions why the report has suddenly been delayed again and asks whe-ther it is the result of Government pressure.

She says she was sent the first chapters of the report and the annexes weeks ago and was told that the other chapters were ready.

The report is looking into the security of final-salary occupational pension sch-emes, alleged delays in scheme wind-ups and claims of injustice caused by maladministration on the part of the Department for Work and Pensions, the Treasury, the former Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority and the Revenue and Customs.

Altmann says: “How can we restore confidence in pensions if these people are still left begging and fighting for the pensions that the Government told them were safe, prot- ected by law and guaranteed? It is in our national interest to put an end to this suffer- ing now. Justice delayed is justice denied.”

Abraham says: “I realise that this may disappoint those who keenly await publication of my report but I hope that you will understand why it is imp-ortant that the process I use to finalise my report is properly balanced and that the timetable for publication reflects the complexity of the subject matter.”

LibDem Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary David Laws says: “It is critically important for the Government as serious and searching questions are asked about the information provided by Government dep-artments, the decisions taken on the minimum funding requirement and possible maladministration by the National Insurance Contrib-utions Office.”

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