She was persuaded to leave the Teachers' Superannuation Scheme six years ago, shortly after returning to teaching following many years abroad. It took 18 months, she says, before she began questioning the advice she had been given: "At first I listened to colleagues with disbelief when they talked about how much better it was to stay in the occupational scheme."
When she did rejoin the TSS, she says, with her private pension frozen, the Teachers' Pensions Agency told her she had lost Pounds 23,000 by leaving. "But I was also paying more to the insurance company, including lump sums, than I would have been paying to the TPA. I haven't been given a firm figure for the transfer value of my private pension, but it's nothing like the value of the money I have lost, particularly if you take the lump sums into account. "
Mrs Smith lives on her own, with one son at university and another about to go. She only has seven years to go to retirement, is struggling to pay off a large mortgage before that date, and says her superannuation is going to be "pitiably small unless I get this thing resolved".