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Unions sue over pension advice

Two teacher unions are to sue a firm of independent financial advisers over the delay in compensating members who were allegedly missold personal pensions.

Waring Marshall, a firm of advisers approved by the Ministry of Defence, is said to have targeted overseas teachers mainly working in Forces' schools. It runs a death-by-accident insurance scheme for Forces' teachers overseas that was commissioned by the MOD.

The firm is being sued by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, which claim that Waring Marshall has taken no action over the cases of members said to have been wrongly advised to leave the Teachers' Superannuation Scheme.

Figures from the Department for Education and Employment show that 14 companies are considering more than 100 claims each from teachers who believe they received inaccurate advice to leave the TSS. Top of the list is the Natwest UK Pension Unit, which is looking at 920 cases, Teachers' Assurance, with 400, and Barclays, with 300. A total of 82 companies are involved.

Waring Marshall has refused to comment on union allegations that it is failing to settle compensation claims. The firm is still making regular visits to Forces schools in Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore and Cyprus to sell financial services.

"Independent financial advisers are wriggling hard to get out of coughing up compensation," said Marion Bird, deputy head of pensions at the ATL, which is considering taking five other independent financial advisers to court. The ATL has one case involving an independent adviser who worked under five different company names over the past five years. All the companies are disclaiming responsibility.

"We are confident that the well-known companies will eventually put things right, but we are worried that the independent financial advisers won't be able to put it right," said Brian Clegg, assistant secretary for salaries and pensions at the NASUWT.

Mr Clegg said that even well-known companies that were taking action were mostly only processing "immediate harm" cases, where the teacher concerned is dying or has already died. The deadline set by the Personal Investment Authority for compensating these urgent cases expired at the end of last year, yet teachers and their families are still waiting for compensation.

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