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By Donia O'Loughlin | Published Jun 29, 2012

Ombudsman comes under budget by £145,000

The Pensions Ombudsman spent less than its annual budget in 2011-2012 despite handling more cases than the previous year.

In its annual reports and accounts 2011/2012, the data showed that complaints were up from 847 in the previous year. The organisation dealt with 87 complaints regarding ill health pensions, down from 110, and 89 complaints transfers compared to 88 in the previous year.

Despite handling more cases, the Ombudsman came under budget by £145,000. Its budgeted operating cost for the year was £2.905m but its actual operating cost was £2.76m. The Ombudsman also pointed out that it said its operating cost divided by the total number of completed enquiries and investigations would be no more than £880, however it was £734.

Complaints about mis-leading advice stayed broadly the same at 45 for the 2011/2012 financial year. Other complaints regarded annuities, calculations and benefits, contributions, spouses and dependents’ benefits, equal treatment, incorrect payments, membership conditions and winding up.

However, 490 cases fell into the category ‘other’.

The report said: “When looking at the proportion of complaints received under each subject matter a very similar pattern emerged this year to last, although unhelpfully over half of the complaints received did not fit into any of the subject matter categories, and so were marked as ‘other’.

“During 2012/13 we will be replacing our current management information system, and as a result we expect to be able to provide more meaningful feedback on the subject matter of our complaints.

“Complaints about entitlement to an ill health pension and transfer issues continue to make up as a significant part of our workload – this year together accounting for a fifth of all closed investigations.”

Predictions by the Ombudsman that its operating cost divided by the number of completed investigations would be no more than £3,325 were vindicated when the actual figure worked out to £3,108.

The report said: “The main reason that our cost/closure ratios were lower than we expected was that we under spent our staff budget. So, to use a fashionable phrase, we did more with less.”

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