When Paul Walton from South Yorkshire was made redundant earlier this year, he decided it was time to look into his finances. After sifting through reams of paperwork and bank statements he worked out there was £80,000 in savings he had put aside for retirement, alongside a pension pot of £1,300 – from a job he held in the late Nineties, early Noughties.

Having left the company in 2001, Paul hadn’t paid anymore into the scheme, and as far as he was concerned the fund’s investment was growing. He hoped after 15 years he would have a tidy sum for his retirement – but this wasn’t to be.

Paul rang the fund in August to discover the horrifying news that there was nothing left. Every single penny had been eaten up in eye-watering charges levied by the company over the 15 years. This wasn’t all – to add insult to injury Paul was told he actually owed the company £37.32 for maintaining the fund.

“I was in complete shock” says Paul. “My jaw dropped to the floor when they told me I actually needed to pay them money. I know pensions can rise and fall in line with the stock market, but I never thought for a moment that there would be nothing left after all those years. It’s not a lot of money, but every penny will count in my retirement.”

Paul was particularly surprised because around 14 years earlier he’d contacted the company asking to transfer the fund into another pension but he was persuaded otherwise, believing keeping it where it was was the best option.