Last updated: August 27, 2021
British Steel Pension Scheme
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 here.
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.
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.
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.
I hear there may be a redress scheme for BSPS members that transferred out – should I still consider making a complaint?
Yes, you should still consider making a complaint.
The FCA is preparing to consult on a redress scheme for former members of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) who transferred their pension. Under a redress scheme, firms would be required to review advice they gave to BSPS members to transfer their pension. If the advice was unsuitable and resulted in a financial loss, the firm would be required to provide compensation.
The FCA expects to launch the consultation by the end of March 2022. Whether a redress scheme is then put in place and its scope would be decided following consultation.
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
- 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, www.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, www.fscs.org.uk
- Financial Conduct Authority Contact Centre: 0800 111 6768 or online at www.fca.org.uk/bsps
How do I know if I had unsuitable advice when I transferred out of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS)?
You can use the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) Advice Checker here to understand whether you might have received unsuitable advice.
Some examples of unsuitable advice (you can see more examples on the FCA’s Advice Checker)
- Failing to show you how your defined benefit pension might help with essential expenditure (e.g. paying bills and rent) and focusing on some of the
possible advantages a transfer would give you. Such as:
- Flexibly and control over your pension savings;
- The possibility of increased death benefits;
- Ease of early retirement;
- Access to a larger tax-free lump sum
- Recommending a product to transfer to but failing to properly explain the charges structure.
- Explaining the potential for good investment returns but failing to warn you how your income might reduce, not keep pace with inflation or not last your lifetime if investments returns were poor or charges were high.
You don’t need to work out if the advice you were given was unsuitable, or make any arguments in support of your complaint. If you’re concerned just get in touch with the Financial Ombudsman Service and they will help you by reviewing all the information from you and the firm and determining whether that advice was suitable
Am I eligible to make a claim?
The FCA found that many people that transferred out of the BSPS since 2017 received unsuitable financial advice. If you think you received unsuitable advice to transfer, you could be entitled to compensation. If you’re unhappy with any aspect of the financial advice you received about transferring you should consider making a formal complaint.
How do I know for sure if I received unsuitable advice?
You do not need to be 100% sure that the advice you received was unsuitable. You can still complain if you are worried that it might have been. There are no penalties or costs to making a complaint which turns out to be unsuccessful.
Are there time limits?
You usually need to complain to a financial adviser or to the Financial Ombudsman Service within six years of your problem happening. If you haven’t done this, your complaint can’t usually be investigated unless:
- you weren’t aware you had a reason to complain at the time or
- you make your complaint within three years of becoming aware (or when you
- should reasonably have become aware) that you had cause to complain.
If there are exceptional circumstances that account for the delay, it may still be possible for your complaint to be considered.
How do I go about it?
If you believe you received unsuitable advice, you can talk to the business you want to complain about first, so they have the chance to put things right. Former BSPS members don’t have to approach their respective advisers first, as the Financial Ombudsman Service can do that for you. If you do speak to the business first, they have to give you their final response within eight weeks for most types of complaints.
At this point, if you’re unhappy with the response, or you haven’t received one, you can refer your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service . Using a regulated financial adviser gives you access to the ombudsman service. This service is independent and free to use. It can make awards for compensation where something has gone wrong. The Financial Ombudsman Service will not be able to say if you have a valid claim for poor advice until your complaint has been investigated.
They have a dedicated team who are considering complaints involving the transfers out of BSPS and have set up a webpage specifically for former BSPS members which can be accessed here. Please direct any complaints to email@example.com
If your financial adviser is no longer in business, you can make a claim to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which is also free to use.
Where can I get help?
MoneyHelper is part of the Money and Pensions Service and is another organisation you can contact for help. It gives people professional, independent and impartial help with their pensions for free. You can call their dedicated British Steel helpline number on 0800 756 1012 or visit Pensions guidance (moneyhelper.org.uk) for other ways to contact them.
MoneyHelper has created a template letter you can access here you don’t have to use this, it’s been designed as an aid to use if you need help to get started on the complaint process.
Should I use a solicitor or Claims Management Company?
You do not need to use a claims management company (CMC) or a solicitor to make a complaint. If you do you will have to share any compensation you get with them. If you decide to use a CMC or a solicitor, make sure you understand the terms of your agreement with them.
Is my complaint more likely to be successful if I use a solicitor or CMC?
No, using a CMC or solicitor will not affect the outcome of your complaint. If you complain yourself, the firm, the Financial Ombudsman Service and FSCS will treat your complaint in the exact same way as complaints received through CMCs and solicitors.
If you need help or advice, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0800 389 6332.