Pensions seems to have finally sunk into the public consciousness suggests a new report by The Pensions Advisory Service.
In its annual report: ‘Advising on Pensions: a Review of Activities 05/06’, TPAS reveals in the last year a record number of people have used its helpline to ask for information, help and advice on a range of pension issues.
Between April 2005 and March this year, 57,000 people rang TPAS, while 4,800 wrote in asking for help. In addition the organisation says the number of visitors to its website has also continued to rise, with an increase of 38% to its main site, and a 55% increase on its pages dedicated to stakeholder pensions.
TPAS suggests the increase of 2% in the number of enquiries reflects a growing public awareness and concern about pensions in general and how they are affected by increases in longevity.
But despite the large number of enquiries, the actual number of complaints recorded by TPAS has fallen by 18%, although it says the biggest area of complaint is of poor administration which makes up 32% of the total number of disputes.
The 36 page report reveals the main areas of concern for those contacting the organisation include the continuing closure of final salary schemes and the problems of falling annuity rates and poor investment returns.
TPAS points out there was also a large increase in calls in the run up to A-Day, particularly on the changes to Self-Invested Personal Pensions (Sipps), the ability to cash in small pensions and changes to the limits on tax-free cash.
Malcolm McLean, chief executive of TPAS, says: “We are pleased but not surprised more and more people are coming to us for the free help and advice we offer.”
He points out the UK has arguably the most complicated pension system in the world with often impenetrable rules and no-one should feel embarrassed or inhibited about seeking confirmation or clarification of their rights and entitlements.
McLean adds: “There really is no such thing as a stupid question about pensions, so never be afraid to ask for information or explanations and make sure you get it in a form you can understand."
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