NETHERLANDS – The Dutch Pensions Ombudsman says he has received a relatively low number of complaints in the last few years.

More pension funds seem to have introduced internal complaints procedures, which are usually implemented carefully, the Ombudsman P.J.C. Keizer said in his report for 2003/2004.

And he expressed surprise at the ‘relatively low number’ of complaints he had to deal with: 552 in 2003 and 642 in 2004. The majority in both years was about information, calculation and liability, he said.

“Getting information on rights in case of disability was a particularly complicated subject,” the ombudsman noted.

“Because members not always take timely action, an active guidance of the pension scheme is more than welcome.”

Keizer deals with complaints about the implementation of participating industry-wide and company pension funds. Together they have 5.5m active and 6.5m deferred members, and 2m pensioners.

The ombudsman couldn’t offer a comprehensive explanation for the rise in cases.

“Besides problems in new transitional schemes for prepension, some complainants frankly said that they don’t have faith in the information from their pension fund, or they simply couldn’t get the data,” he said.

Keizer stressed the necessity of accurate information about the build-up of pension rights, in order to enable members to make their own decisions.

The ombudsman can’t yet force employers to cooperate. “A more detailed description of the employers’ liabilities in the new pensions bill could change this.”

According to Keizer not all pension funds share his opinion: “Too many times they start discussions about right or wrong, instead of looking for reasonable solutions.”

The next report, which will be published in 2007, will pay much more attention to the liabilities of information of the employers and the implementing organisations, the ombudsman announced.

Ombudsman Keizer took over from J. de Ruiter as of May 1 2003. De Ruiter had been ombudsman for eight years.