The Pensions Ombudsman has seen delays in resolving complaints, due to the impact of Covid-19 and the increased complexity of these cases.
According to the ombudsman’s annual report, published on Friday, pension complaints that normally would have been resolved in between six and 12 months are now taking more than 12 months.
The report stated limited access to office space and a delay in responses to information requests from schemes were behind the delays, alongside the increasing complexity of pension complaints.
“We took steps to ensure that our work did not place unnecessary demands on large public sector schemes and other care providers such as the NHS and local government at such a crucial time,’’ it added.
In terms of its active caseload, the Pensions Ombudsman’s aim for 2020-21 was to have less than 10 per cent older than 12 months.
But at the close of the financial year, the organisation had 1,416 (29.1 per cent) of its 4,853 active pension complaints older than one year.
While the ombudsman stated it was seeing “improvements in closing cases earlier in our process”, it added “tackling the backlog of older cases and improving customer waiting times is a priority”.
The institution said it is seeing an improvement in early resolution cases.
After introducing a single application process for all pension complaints in May 2020 with the goal of resolving complaints as soon as possible, its team dealt with 16,673 contacts from people seeking help and closed 4,853 pension complaints.
This is an increase of almost 6 per cent on the previous year, which “is an excellent achievement given the constraints we faced”, it stated.
Saksha Menezes is a reporter at FTAdviser's sister publication Pensions Expert