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Ombudsman to restructure complaint handling process

Ombudsman to restructure complaint handling process

The Pensions Ombudsman will restructure the way it processes cases in a bid to cut the time it takes to complete an investigation.

In its latest corporate plan, out today (20 July), the ombudsman said it wanted to develop new tools and processes for its staff including allocating cases based on resource capacity and priority and improving triage to allow a more focused allocation of investigations.

It comes after the Financial Ombudsman Service (Fos) also restructured its processes, in a move which was later blamed for having affected staff morale and for placing efficiency as a greater priority than quality.

It also comes in the wake of the ombudsman admitting it had failed to properly handle some claims in the past, including that of a vulnerable client who was left waiting for months before being informed it had lost vital parts of her complaint.

As well as cutting down the amount of time it takes to investigate cases, The Pensions Ombudsman said it wanted to introduce a new quality assurance team to "contribute to high quality and consistent output".

Antony Arter, the pensions ombudsman, said: "For some time we have been working on simplifying our own processes and improving performance in terms of quality of output and the time taken to bring disputes to a conclusion.

"Our latest initiative has been to restructure our casework function to enable us to accommodate our new ways of working. We now want to build on this fundamental change."

Mr Arter said the changes already made to date had led to about 70 per cent of cases being resolved informally, with timescales "significantly reduced".

During the next 12 months The Pensions Ombudsman also said there would be a review of the memorandum of understanding between it and the Fos to make sure the "best customer journey" was being achieved.

The agreement was reached at the end of last year to clarify the overlap between the two bodies' jurisdictions, with both agreeing to point claimants in the other's direction if a complaint fell outside their area of competence.

The Pensions Ombudsman, which investigates disputes concerning pension schemes and maladministration by the Pension Protection Fund, received 8 per cent more enquiries between 2015/16 and 2017/18.

Meanwhile over the past three years there has been annual growth in new investigations of 7 per cent.

damian.fantato@ft.com