Steelworkers: Have you been mis-sold a pension scheme after transferring out of BSPS2? This is how to complain.
For four years I have been campaigning on behalf of my steelworker constituents who, in 2017, were faced with a decision as to whether to enter into the BSPS2 pension scheme, or whether to transfer away into another pension scheme of their choosing. 8,000 steelworkers decided against joining BSPS2 and spoke to Independent Financial Advisors (IFAs) for advice.
Unfortunately, we know that – for their own financial gain – many of these Advisors offered advice that went against the steelworkers’ financial interests. They mis-sold pensions which have cost steelworkers and their families tens of thousands of pounds.
The behaviour of the unscrupulous financial advisers who ripped off these men and their families was completely inexcusable. The sheer size of the pension transfer exercise, the high level of publicity that the transfer received, and the workers’ deep-seated mistrust of the employer at that time, the trustees and Tata made for fertile territory for these parasite advisors. Trade unions, steel MPs such as myself, and the BSPS trustees, all called on the UK Government to introduce a system where steelworkers transferred to BSPS2 by default, but we were ignored.
Since 2017 I have been campaigning to get steelworkers the compensation they deserve, working with other MPs and campaigners to put pressure on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to prioritise this case. This included bringing 80 steelworkers to Parliament to meet the regulator face-to-face, and by securing time to debate the issue in the House of Commons.
As a result the FCA have now produced a toolkit, which should make it easier for steelworkers to understand whether they might be due compensation, and to make a complaint.
If you chose to transfer out of BSPS into a private pension scheme on the advice of a financial advisor please read the information below and strongly consider making a complaint. More than half of the complaints processed by the FCA so far have been upheld.
The Financial Conduct Authority’s four-step guide
You could be one of the many people due compensation after receiving unsuitable advice to transfer out of the British Steel Pension Scheme. Many people who have transferred out of the British Steel Pension Scheme since 2017 were given unsuitable financial advice. In nearly half of all cases reviewed by the Financial Conduct Authority the advice given was unsuitable. Even if you’re happy with your decision to transfer, you should consider complaining or making a claim. If you don’t you may end up with less money in retirement than you should have done. There is limited time to make a complaint so you should take action now. Hundreds of steelworkers have already complained about the advice they received from an advice firm. This information sets out what you should do.
To find out more and for links to all the webpages mentioned below visit:
Step 1: Consider complaining
It is quick, simple and free to make a complaint or a claim and you do not need to use a claims management company or a solicitor to do this. If you do, you will have to share any compensation you get with them.
If you want to check whether the advice you had was suitable, you can go to the Financial Conduct Authority’s Advice Checker. This includes a video to explain the process.
If you would prefer to speak to someone on the phone about your situation, MoneyHelper provides independent and impartial information and guidance about pensions, free of charge. You can contact their British Steel helpline on 0800 756 1012 or click here for other ways to contact them.
Remember you don’t need to be completely sure that the advice you received was unsuitable before you can complain. If you have any doubts about your transfer and the advice you received get in touch with MoneyHelper to talk this through with them.
Step 2: Make a complaint directly or via the Financial Ombudsman Service
The next step is to complain to the firm that gave you the advice. To help you make a complaint, MoneyHelper has put together a template letter. Please click here for the template letter – you don’t have to use this, it’s been designed to help you get started on the complaint process.
Template complaint letter: https://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/content/dam/maps/en/pensions/maps-bsps-complaint-letter-template.docx
If you are not sure how to make the initial complaint to the firm, get in touch with the Financial Ombudsman Service by emailing email@example.com and they can explain the process. You do not have to approach your advisers to complain first, the Financial Ombudsman Service can do this for you. The firm then has up to eight weeks to consider your complaint and provide its response. If the firm doesn’t respond to your satisfaction, or if they don’t respond within eight weeks, you can ask the Financial Ombudsman Service to investigate.
Financial Ombudsman Service BSPS webpage: www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/consumers/complaints-can-help/pensions-annuities/transfers-from-workplace-pensions-and-the-pensions-review/british-steel-pension-scheme
Step 3: What to do if you are not happy with the firm’s response
Once the firm has been made aware of your complaint – either by you or by the Financial Ombudsman Service on your behalf – it must respond to your complaint in writing within 8 weeks, telling you whether the complaint has been successful or why they need more time to look into it.
If you’re not satisfied with the firm’s response, or it doesn’t respond within 8 weeks, and you haven’t already done so, you can take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
The Financial Ombudsman Service has published the actual outcomes of decisions on British Steel Pension Scheme complaints which provide more detail about how the complaint was dealt with and what the outcomes were for the BSPS members involved – click here to find out more.
Financial Ombudsman Service decision outcomes:
What to do if your firm is no longer trading
If the firm which advised you about your British Steel pension is no longer trading, you can submit a claim to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). FSCS may be able to compensate you up to £85,000 if you have suffered a financial loss because of the advice you received.
FSCS has a dedicated webpage to help you
where you can:
- check if the firm which advised you is no longer trading, and see information about the firm
- find an easy-to-use guide to making a claim https://www.fscs.org.uk/globalassets/pdfs/fscs-compensation-claim-guide-stg07.pdf
- read FAQs about claiming direct with FSCS for free rather than through a solicitor or Claims Management Company.
Firms can stop trading quickly, so please be aware that the Financial Ombudsman Service may inform you that your case will be handled by FSCS.
Contact details for the organisations:
- MoneyHelper: 0800 011 3797, moneyandpensionsservice.org.uk
- MoneyHelper’s British Steel helpline: 0800 756 1012
- Financial Ombudsman Service: 0800 023 4567, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Financial Services Compensation Scheme: 0800 678 1100, fscs.org.uk
- Financial Conduct Authority Contact Centre: 0800 111 6768 or online at fca.org.uk/bsps