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Star Group Pension Scheme
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Jonathan Williams ,
Bangor University

A dreadful case of poor administration and a serious overpayment

I really can’t stress enough how critical it is to check your pension scheme’s administration records accurately reflect members’ benefits and circumstances - especially if you’re transitioning administration. I’ve been working on a case recently (well, it has lasted just under two years) where this most definitely hadn’t happened and it has been a real pain to resolve.

Just when you thought it was over…

The case was discovered as part of the Guaranteed Minimum Pension (GMP) reconciliation exercise (which had been closed but was then reopened by HMRC). We found a member’s benefits had been put into payment, but they’d actually previously transferred out. The overpayment was tens of thousands of pounds.

The pension trustees had agreed terms with the member for the repayment of the overpayment. Excellent. The member’s relative, on their behalf, then submitted a complaint to the Pensions Ombudsman, which was later withdrawn.

How did it all happen?

The crux of the error was the pension scheme’s administrator did not check the GMP at State Pension age and also ignored information from the member who told them they thought they had transferred out!

To cap it all, the member records were incorrect too. It became clear the procedures followed when the administration service was transitioned a few years earlier had been poor. Controls and processes were not followed by the pension administrator.

There are a few lessons to be learned from this example, not least correctly following procedures, checking everything and then checking it has been checked. This should happen whenever a member’s record is accessed for whatever reason.

Applying common sense is another. After all, if a member tells you they think they have transferred out…



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