The free Government service that helps people find lost pension cash is undergoing a major expansion, ahead of April’s ground-breaking pension freedoms. The Newcastle-based Pension Tracing Service will triple its number of staff – taking the total headcount to 49 – ahead of a rising number of calls from people seeking help to find lost pension pots. Last year the service was contacted a record 145,000 times – double the amount in 2010 – and in an impressive 87 per cent of cases, staff successfully managed to put customers back in touch with their lost pension provider. With 98 per cent of enquiries from members of the public dealt with in just four days, the Government is determined to continue its excellent track record and do everything it can to ensure people have access to all of their money.
Last year the service traced lost pensions for more than 125,000 people
Minister for Pensions Steve Webb said: “With people having an average of 11 different jobs during the course of their working lives, it can be very easy to lose track of pensions they may have built up with previous employers. “If you contributed to a pension in a previous job and don't have any details any more, it would be worth contacting our free PTS to see how you can be reunited with your lost pension pot.
“Whilst we have plans to help people combine their pension pots in future when they change jobs, there are still too many scattered and lost pensions, and we are working hard to make sure people get what they are entitled to.”
Jill Scott at the Pension Tracing Service said: “Every day we take a huge amount of satisfaction through the work that we do in helping hundreds of people to track down money that is rightfully theirs. Helping people to find their hard-earned money means they can look forward to retirement in a much better position.
“While it may sound strange, losing track of a pension is easily done, as people tend to move around the jobs market far more frequently than might have been the case in the past.”
Will complement the guidance offered by Pension Wise to help people make the most of their new pension freedoms.
Independent research suggests that the most common reason for losing track of a pension is when an individual leaves an employer and does not keep them informed of any future changes of address. Estimates suggest that there could be as many as 50 million dormant and lost pension pots by 2050. From April the PTS will be complemented by the Government’s free and impartial service Pension Wise, which will offer guidance to people over 55 about how they can make the most of the new pension freedoms once they take effect. Around 300,000 individuals a year will be able to access their defined contribution pension savings, and Pension Wise will be their first port of call. It is expected that many customers will be referred to the PTS to track down lost cash.
Recruitment of the additional staff has already begun and will be completed by April.
People can contact the PTS by telephone, in writing or via the website. Customers should provide the name of the company or pension scheme they are trying to trace. Additional information, such as dates of employment, type of business or its location, also help. The PTS searches its database, which contains contact addresses for more than 200,000 pension scheme administrators. It is then down to the individual to contact the scheme to find out if they have a pension.
If the PTS is unable to put someone in touch with their pension provider, they are advised to: Try and find documents that may have a scheme name, insurer or other financial company name that could provide another lead. Contact friends or former colleagues who may have been in the same scheme. They may be in receipt of the pension or have more information about it.