TPO awards complainant £1,000 in partly upheld decision

The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) has awarded a complainant, Mr Y, £1,000 in a partly upheld complaint against Midcounties Co-operative Pension Trustee Limited.

Mr Y had claimed that he was entitled to around an additional 12 years of pensionable service in the Midcounties Co-operative Pension Scheme as he believed the trustee had lost his membership details for a period between 1980 and 1992.

He was also dissatisfied with how the trustee handled his subsequent complaint under the scheme’s internal dispute resolution procedure (IDRP).

However, although the adjudicator said they “fully empathised” with Mr Y’s “unfortunate position”, the evidence fell short of establishing that he was entitled to an additional 12 years’ pensionable service in the scheme.

According to the member record held by the trustee for Mr Y, he was an active member of the scheme from 1 September 1992 until 21 August 1997, while Mr Y contended the trustee had lost the details of his membership for the period 19 April 1980 to 31 August 1992.

The adjudicator noted that the trustee had encountered difficulties funding evidence of Mr Y’s membership to the scheme prior to September 1992 due to the length of time since the details went missing, the fund undergoing several consolidations with other pension schemes and, in order to comply with the Data Protection Act, the trustee did not keep personal data for longer than necessary.

Furthermore, the trustee was not responsible for the pension schemes operated by the subsidiary organisation of the previous iteration of the scheme before it was consolidated, as these schemes had their own trustees and were administered independently from the Midcounties Co-operative Pension Scheme.

“It was disappointing that despite correspondence with the trustee, former trustees and Aviva, that it had not been possible to ascertain what had happened to the pension benefits that Mr Y accrued from 19 April 1980 to 31 August 1992,” the adjudicator stated.

Pensions ombudsman, Anthony Arter, said: “I share the adjudicator’s disappointment that it has not been possible in Mr Y’s case despite protracted correspondence with the trustee, former trustees and Aviva.

“However it is not the role of TPO to assist an applicant trace lost pensions. The benefits available to Mr Y from the Oxford Garage Group Pension Plan regrettably cannot currently be found, but this does not mean that it will always be the case.

“I sympathise with Mr Y’s unfortunate position. However, I do not find, from the available evidence, it has been clearly established that he was entitled to around an additional 12 years’ pensionable service in the scheme.

“It is evident to me though, that Mr Y has experienced serious distress and inconvenience because of the failure of the trustee to properly carry out its IDRP and this amounts to maladministration of its part.

“My awards for non-financial injustice are modest and not intended to punish a respondent. I consider that the non-financial injustice which Mr Y has suffered is serious and so warrants an award of £1,000.”

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