After he retired, Mr Ainsworth, was advised by his former employer, Barclays Bank Plc, that his guaranteed minimum pension (GMP) would not be increased at the same rate as his scheme pension. This was because the GMP had been subject to fixed-rate revaluation. Mr Ainsworth complained that, contrary to the information he received and relied on when he retired early, his pension was not fully inflation-proofed following state pension age. He also claimed that Barclays refused to give him statistics relating to the proportion of other members affected, which would help inform the Pensions Ombudsman’s decision.
The Pensions Ombudsman dismissed Mr Ainsworth’s claim against the bank and Barclays Pension Fund Trustees Ltd but held that Barclays’ failure to indicate in its information that the position on inflation-proofing might not be the same for all members did amount to maladministration. However, he noted that Mr Ainsworth also had to prove reliance on the incorrect information. He did not believe that Mr Ainsworth would have acted any differently even if he had been fully informed or that any financial loss had been caused by the maladministration. The Pensions Ombudsman also refused to order disclosure of Barclay’s statistics on the number of other members affected on the basis that he dealt with individual complaints and it did not make any difference whether a small or large number of members had been misinformed.
Comment: whilst the determination was in favour of the bank, employers and trustees should be aware of the need for good administration practices and disclosure of information to members.
View the determination.