The Pensions Ombudsman has hit out at the Government for failing to provide the required resources to keep up with a record number of pensions complaints.
David Laverick said during the year to the end of March he had received a record 3,930 complaints from people about their company and personal pensions.
But despite increasing the number of cases he ruled on by more than 20 per cent, he said he was unable to make significant in-roads into the number of cases he had in hand, ending the year with 1 , 700 outstanding, compared with 1,623 at the beginning of it.
He complained that he could not clear this backlog unless the Department for Work and Pensions provided him with more room for additional staff and a better IT system.
But he said despite two Pensions Ministers expressing a willingness to find a solution to these issues and indicating money could be made available, there had not been any progress.
As a result, he said he had had to postpone plans to recruit additional staff to work through the backlog of complaints.
Mr Laverick said: "There is some truth in the adage that justice delayed is justice denied and I am particularly embarrassed by making findings from time to time of unreasonable delay on the part of those managing and administering pension schemes when the time I have myself taken has been so long."
He said the DWP expected there to be progress on both IT systems and office space by the end of the financial year, but added that he would be " extremely disappointed" if he had to go into the next financial year without the necessary improvements having been made.
Mr Laverick said that while 35 per cent of cases were dealt with within six months, 45 per cent took more than 12.
But he said at the end of March a deputy ombudsman, Charlie Gordon, was appointed, which would go some way towards quicker processing.
In his annual report the Ombudsman said around 12 per cent of the complaints he handled had related to the calculation of benefits, while 11 per cent were to do with mis-selling and eight per cent were about ill health pensions.
He said a significant amount of his current workload related to complaints about the sale of Additional Voluntary Contribution arrangements to teachers by Prudential Assurance.
He said key to settling these complaints was establishing whether people had been made aware that they could buy extra years under the scheme, as an alternative to making AVCs.
Meanwhile, women are risking retirement poverty by relying on their partner's pension to see them through their old age, it was claimed yesterday.
Around 45 per cent of women aged over 50 say their main income once they stop work will come from their partner's pension, but by the time they retire one in seven women will be divorced.
Insurer Norwich Union warned that many women who divorced before new pension sharing rules were introduced in December 2000 were not entitled to a share of their husband's pension.
At the same time women often opt to keep the family home, rather than have a slice of their husband's retirement provision.
Research carried out for the group by market analyst Mintel found that just four per cent of divorced women aged over 50 had received a share of their ex-husband's pension.
More than three-quarters of the women questioned realised it would be extremely difficult to survive on the current state pension alone, but they claimed they were not in a position to put enough money away to build up an adequate pension pot before they retired.
Despite often being cash poor during retirement, women tended to be asset rich, with 49 per cent aged over 50 owning their home outright, rising to 60 per cent among people aged over 65.
The research also found that women were most likely to be awarded the house in a divorce settlement, with more than half keeping the family home.
Unsurprisingly, nearly three out of ten women said they were relying on their property to provide them with an income during retirement.
Nigel Spencer, head of marketing for Norwich Union equity release, said: "Women are increasingly becoming the poorer sex when it comes to retirement and it's worrying to see this problem compounded due to rising divorce rates amongst the over 50s."