Pensions Ombudsman  

Pension complaint times to fall as services merge

Pension complaint times to fall as services merge

Complaints about pension schemes are expected to be dealt with more quickly after a decision to send them only to the Pensions Ombudsman, as guidance body The Pensions Advisory Service (Tpas) moves its dispute resolution function there.

This is being done to "simplify the customer journey" and improve complaint handling, the Pensions Ombudsman, an independent organisation set up by law to investigate complaints about pension administration, said.

The move includes the transfer of the Tpas dispute resolution team and volunteer network of more than 350 people, and will be completed by 1 April 2018.

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Anthony Arter, the pensions ombudsman, said both entities have been working to create "one centre for the resolution of pension disputes helping to ensure a simpler and quicker customer journey".

He said: "I am delighted to welcome the dispute resolution team and its network of volunteers to The Pensions Ombudsman. We have worked with the team for many years and recognise the excellent customer service which they deliver."

At the moment customers can approach both entities when dealing with a pension complaint but Tpas tends to focus on complaints before the pension scheme’s internal dispute resolution procedure has been completed, while the ombudsman typically deals with complaints that have been through this process.

Tpas, which will be merged with Pension Wise and The Money Advice Service under the new single financial guidance body, will continue to focus on providing pension information and guidance.

Both entities will update their signposting to the public and pensions industry to reflect the services provided by each organisation. Pension schemes and providers will be given information to enable them to make the necessary changes to their signposting, the Pensions Ombudsman said.

Michelle Cracknell, chief executive of Tpas, said it is "imperative" customers get the help that they need with their pensions and it is easy for them to find it.

She said: "We have been working with the Pensions Ombudsman to ensure that customers find the right place to get the help that they need and for both organisations to move customers seamlessly between the services to ensure that the customer gets the right help."

Guy Opperman, minister for pensions and financial inclusion, said that while the single financial guidance body would ensure guidance was open to everyone, it was also "essential" that savers are clear on who to speak to if they have any complaints.

He said: "The decision to transfer disputes resolution work to the Pensions Ombudsman will both simplify how these complaints are handled, but should also give savers the confidence that their disputes will be resolved as quickly as possible."

During 2016 – the latest data available – the Pensions Ombudsman received 1,333 complaints, and was contacted by 6,121 people who thought the service would be able to offer assistance, with 70 per cent taking advantage of the online application service.