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Bringing the PIA problem to a wider audience

The arguments raised by Christopher Mellor (Money Marketing, November 1) need to be addressed to a wider stage than ourselves to gain public approval for reforms.

Contrary to the general view, some folk in the media understand the ombudsman problem.

Paul Foot (Private Eye, October 5) comments on the departure of Julian Farrand, QC, the Pensions Ombudsman – applauding his success in returning £300m to the National Bus Company pension trustees misappropriated by the Govern-ment when the company was privatised.

Julian Farrand&#39s successor, David Laverick (appointed by the Government) fulfils a specification under which”an understanding of the law relating to occupational pensions and personal pensions” is merely “desirable” and not essential.

Mr Laverick, a solicitor, previously worked in the office of the North of England local government ombudsman and is not obviously a pension expert.

One might suspect the politics of this is that the Government wants to tip the balance away from Julian Farrand&#39s successes in returning Maxwell-type company misappropriations of pension funds back to pensioners. A tax angle, perhaps?

The Office of the PIA Ombudsman needs similar public exposure and to be subject to appeal in the highest courts – like the pensions ombudsman, who has suffered occasional reverses in the House of Lords.

There is a real danger that centuries of progress towards civil rights can be undermined by regulators substituting the due process of law.

On a more hopeful note, FSA research shows one-third of all clients are confident of making their own decisions and so do not need shadowing by regulators or ombudspeople.

Andrew Nichols, writing in the Financial Times (October 13), commenting on his decision to buy an Equitable Life pension says: “It was not my wisest or most profitable decision but it was my decision. When I look round for someone to blame, I start with myself.”

That is surely the best redundancy notice to the FSA I have ever read.

Roy Bennett

Retired IFA, Hackbridge,Surrey


Not best policy

Last week, I looked at the broad tax and financial implications of investment by companies. I touched on the potentially negative impact that investment can have on business assets taper relief and looked specifically at the tax implications for income and capital gains produced by direct and collective investments such as Oeics, unit trusts and […]

Revenue policy on windfalls

Windfalls flowing from demutualisation of a life office are paid to the first named of a joint policy.This would appear to place the whole of the gain on that first-named person.However, the Inland Revenue recently published a note about joint policies in Working Together Issue No. 6.My understanding is that the Revenue will accept a […]

Pensioners pressing Parliament to bring in free personal care

The National Pensioners Convention is writing to Health Secretary Alan Milburn asking for a meeting on free personal care in England.An NPC rally last week in Westminster saw thousands of pensioners put their case. NPC president Rodney Bickerstaffe was joined by speakers including Barbara Castle, independent MP Dr Richard Taylor and agony aunt Claire Rayner […]

Skipton Building Society – 5 Year Capped Plus 0.45 Per Cent Discount

Friday, 16 November 2001.Type: Flexible capped rate discount mortgage. Discounted term: Two years.Discount: 0.45 per cent.Capped rate: 6.65 per cent.Capped term: Until January 31, 2007.Minimum loan: £5,000.Maximum loan: Up to 95 per cent of valuation subject to no maximum.Income multiples: 3.5 times principal income plus second or 2.75 times joint. First-time buyers 3.25 times principal […]

Pension savings-2015

Pension tax relief: parked (for the moment)

The national news agenda has been dominated by pension issues this month. For those that missed it (and there cannot have been many given that this was the lead story in spoken and written media), the Chancellor announced a decision to make no decision on pension tax relief in his 16 March 2016 Budget speech. To […]


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