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Computer blamed for lost pension cash

More than a thousand pension contributions paid by Kent teachers to the Prudential insurance company have gone missing this year, owing to a computer error.

The mistake was discovered when staff at Tunbridge Wells boys grammar school realised that additional voluntary contributions (AVCs) deducted from their salaries months ago had not been credited to their pensions.

When Ben Greene, the school's head of history, received his annual AVC statement from the Prudential, he noticed that only the January payment had been credited by the company. Mr Greene subsequently established that his February contribution had not reached the company until October, and that no other payments had been received, although his pay slips prove that monthly deductions have been made.

The regulations governing teachers' pensions demand that contributions are paid to pension providers within seven days of making salary deductions, otherwise teachers could lose interest on their payments.

The Prudential said that a "keying-in error" in its computer system was responsible for the mistake, and that 178 teachers are affected. It has promised to recalculate all the AVC contributions involved and to have issued revised statements by December 12. It says that no one will be financially disadvantaged by the mistake.

The Prudential AVC scheme is very popular among teachers wanting to top-up their pensions - more than a fifth of the UK teaching force now contributes to it.

TES december 19 1997 justin slee

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