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Complaints over pensions reach record volume

Pension complaints have hit record levels, rising by more than a quarter in the past year, according to figures from the Pensions Advisory Service.

In the year ending March 31, Opas dealt with 46,290 pension enquiries and complaints. This was a 27 per cent increase on last year and marks the biggest caseload for Opas in its 19 years.

Opas says most enquiries for personal pensions concern misselling, at 32 per cent of all cases, with queries on contract terms accounting for 23 per cent and maladministration by providers 19 per cent.

Eligibility troubled most people on stakeholder, taking 27 per cent of enquiries. Questions on employer access were the second most common, with 18 per cent of calls, followed by concurrency problems at 12 per cent. Of those enquiring about company pension schemes, 21 per cent of calls concerned entitlement and membership conditions, 15 per cent were about leaving service and transfers and 14 per cent ill heath and early retirement.

Opas had 35,874 calls to its helpline, up by 29 per cent from 27,809 last year.

There were an additional 27,770 calls to the service&#39s dedicated stakeholder help-line. The number of cases coming to Opas in written form has also increased, up by 24 per cent to 10,416 from 8,415 last year.

Chief executive Malcolm McLean says: “It is good that more people are starting to realise the importance of having a decent pension. A sizeable number of enquiries stem from less positive developments – notably the problems of Equitable Life and the move away from final-salary schemes.

“Complexity and poor communication also remain prime causes of disputes and misunderstandings.”

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