today that it has, so far, settled claims amounting to£1,013,457 for 46 members who have been victims of pensions mis-selling. The Association has been at the forefront of the campaign to force companies to settle outstanding mis-sold pension claims quickly and in full.
Marion Bird, deputy head of pensions at ATL, said:
'We are very concerned that there are still thousands of teachers who do not realise that they are disadvantaged by opting out of the Teachers Pensions Scheme (TPS). Many teachers believe that the advice to take out personal pensions could not be a bad one, particularly as that advice is being given by a professional adviser.'
Marion Bird continued:
'Until the individual has received notification that their pension has been restored, the financial companies ought not treat the case as another statistic in their clear-up rate.'
Since the departure of Helen Liddell from the treasury, Peter Smith, general secretary of ATL, has written to the new economic secretary, Patricia Hewitt (copy of the letter follows), urging that she takes further action to speed up companies which have been slow in paying out compensation to individuals.
To follow: Letter to Patricia Hewitt from Peter Smith, and comments from teachers who were victims of pensions mis-selling.
ATL member, Elizabeth Scott, was advised by Charter Financial Planning in Preston, that opting for a personal pension would be more beneficial than the Teachers Pensions Scheme (TPS). It took almost five years to reach a settlement.
'When I changed from full-time teaching to part-time, my financial adviser told me that it would be better for me to opt out of the TPS. However, all the publicity surrounding pensions mis-selling made me ask him if my finances were all right and I was told everything was fine. However, when I spoke to ATL I found out otherwise. My adviser still continued to deny that he had given me the wrong advice. I would have suffered a great loss - over 17 years of service and benefits - if it wasn't for ATL.
'It is important not to feel embarrassed about not understanding the ins and outs of pensions. People just do not realise how good the TPS is.'
Financial advisers from large companies have also fallen foul of giving wrong information.
Bernadette Watkins, was advised by Norwich Union to opt out of the TPS. After four years, Norwich Union finally agreed a settlement.
'I initially followed the advice of an insurance agent who had been very helpful when my father died. My concern arose from listening to the media in 1992 and I have been grateful to be able to turn to ATL who helped me keep things in perspective.
'Unfortunately I have no trust left in the insurance industry.'
ATL also assisted Wendy Dunne in settling her claim against the Prudential.
'It was a very worrying time for me because I had to take early retirement on ill-health and I wasn t sure if I had a pension at the end of it. Because the Prudential took so long to settle my claim, there was a two-month period when I wasn t receiving any regular income.
'I trusted the adviser and I believed I was being given the best financial advice.'
Other companies which have been slow in paying compensation include: Abbey National, Friends Provident, Guardian Financial Services, Legal & General, Waring Marshall.
28 September 1998
Patricia Hewitt MP
London SW1P 3AG
Dear Patricia Hewitt
I am writing to welcome you into your new post as Economic Secretary. I hope we will be able to work together in tackling the mis-selling of pensions to teachers.
ATL has handled hundreds of cases where teachers have been wrongly advised to opt out of the Teachers Pensions Scheme. We have, so far, managed to restore over£1m to our members. However, there are still over 200 cases which are on-going.
One of our main concerns now is the length of time it is taking to settle claims. The financial companies concerned have attempted to speed up the process of handling cases, but the time it takes for the compensation to arrive is still far too long. Typically, our members are suffering a great deal of anguish as they try to regain their financial loss.
I am aware that you are currently dealing with the second phase of the
pensions mis-selling review but I urge you to continue to look into the compensation issues mentioned in phase one and the tardiness of companies in paying back victims.