KiwiSaver withdrawal system sparks complaints

Problems withdrawing funds from KiwiSaver are prompting complaints to dispute resolution service providers.

Sunday, May 4th 2014, 5:09PM

The Banking Ombudsman Scheme has had a 51% increase in KiwiSaver cases compared to last year and expects complaints to continue increasing as the value of KiwiSaver savings grows and participant banks take more of the market.

There were 59 KiwiSaver complaints to March 31, compared with 39 for the same period the previous financial year.

Banking Ombudsman Deborah Battell said: “The majority of complaints are about the inability to withdraw funds, especially on hardship grounds.”

Insurance and Savings Ombudsman Karen Stevens reported similar issues with KiwiSaver.

“Many people do not realise they cannot wiwthdraw their KiwiSaver savings early unless they meet strict criteria.”

The Insurance and Savings Ombudsman Scheme received over 40 queries and complaints last year from KiwiSaver members. “Most of our KiwiSaver queries are from people who want to withdraw their savings early and find that they can’t,” Stevens said.

“The point of KiwiSaver is to help people save for their retirement, so the ability to withdraw your KiwiSaver savings before the age of 65 is very limited.”

She said the criteria was strict in cases where people could access their money.

“For example, we had a recent complaint from someone who had applied to withdraw his KiwiSaver savings to help buy his first home. This was declined as the sale had been completed before his application was received. As he owned the house already, he did not meet the criteria for a home withdrawal.”

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