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Review drags on as watchdog battles with PSO

A year-long feud between the Inland Revenue and the Financial Services

Ombudsman is being slammed by the pension industry for delaying the

conclusion of the pension review.

The ombudsman has been trying to get the Pension Schemes Office to relax

rules which have restricted cases which qualify for the category

“unsuitable sale” and require compensation.

But consumers and intermediaries are being kept in the dark and the

industry is unable to conclude the review.

The news comes nearly a year since the Revenue caved in to complaints from

the ombudsman on restrictions on compensation payouts, meaning some

policyholders could be short-changed.

The ombudsman is seeking authority from the Revenue to compensate cases

which are currently left out of the review to pay back their contributions

plus interest.

Those potentially missing out on compensation as a result of the Revenue&#39s

rules include consumers missold pension mortgages.

An ombudsman lawyer admits: “Unfortunately, things are looking very grey

at the moment but we hope to speak with the Revenue shortly and release a

statement to the PIA on revised guidance.”

Scottish Life head of communications Alasdair Buchanan says: “From an

industry point of view, it is bad news. What we really want is an end to

the pension review. This will make it look like the industry is dragging

its heels. No one wins by arguing the toss. We need to resolve this and

restore consumer confidence.”

But the battle looks set to rage on as, in recent correspondence, the

Revenue says even pension mortgages that do not yield enough to make

mortgage repayments should not be cancelled.

Revenue spokesman David McKenna says: “From our point of view, this will

not constitute an unsuitable sale.”

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