The Liberal Democrats have attacked the government's response to the findings of the Parliamentary Ombudsman's report into occupational pensions, while Ros Altmann is planning to launch a judicial review of the case on behalf of the pensioners affected next week.
David Laws, shadow work and pensions secretary for the Liberal Democrats, says it is unacceptable for the government to so comprehensively reject the Ombudsman’s findings of maladministration and subsequent recommendations.
He says: “The government is showing the most appalling arrogance in ignoring the financial hardship of thousands of people who saved in an occupational pension. There seems little point in having a Parliamentary Ombudsman if the government slams a report such as this and disregards its recommendations simply because it raises difficult questions.”
Laws points out the problem will not simply go away and warns the next step will “surely be a legal challenge,” which is exactly what Dr Ros Altmann, a representative of the pensioners affected by the alleged maladministration, is planning to do.
And she says the riposte from the DWP may actually have helped the case, which is currently being prepared ready to be launched next week, as the real value of the figure’s set out in the report are actually closer to those put forward by Altmann and the campaigners of between £2.7-3.9bn.
Altmann says: “I’m hoping they may have shot themselves in the foot here, as they’ve not actually countered the findings of the Ombudsman’s report at all, merely repeated what they said to the Ombudsman and which she declared to be unsatisfactory.”
She points out financial advisers should be particularly interested as they have paid billions of pounds for mis-selling accusations, and yet the government “has done exactly the same thing, been found guilty of the same thing and yet refuses to compensate for it, You can’t have one rule for government and one for everyone else”.
In addition, Altmann says the report has made it vitally important to make the DWP realise it is wrong, as it either does not know, or is pretending not to know how the people reading their leaflets think.
She says: “The government is effectively guilty of mis-selling but has refused it by saying people would not have relied on the information, which is simply not true. As a result this could lead to future cases of mis-selling as it will be impossible to trust what their information says as they don’t understand how the people reading it will interpret it.”
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