TPAS shifts pension complaints function to The Pensions Ombudsmen
The dispute resolution function of The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) is to be absorbed by The Pensions Ombudsmen and will become the single point of contact for all pension dispute resolutions.
The consolidation of the two bodies' dispute resolution teams is due to take effect from 1st April 2018 and is intended to result in a more simplified journey for members of pensions schemes who go to these organisations for assistance.
Up until now, where complaints relate to the administration of occupational pension scheme and the complaint is directed against trustees, both TPAS and the Pension Ombudsman get involved. TPAS often get involved before the scheme has completed its own internal dispute resolution procedure (IDRP), and the Ombudsman generally deals with those problems not resolved by that procedure.
As a result of the consolidation of these teams, all pension dispute resolution within TPAS and the Ombudsman services will be dealt with in one place. The expectation is that will reduce duplication, improve the customer experience and make signposting easier.
Based on the Pensions Ombudsman most recent annual report, around 70% of disputes are currently resolved informally before the Ombudsman gets involved. It is hoped that a greater amount of disputes could be settled at an earlier stage by TPAS and the Pension Ombudsman working more closely together.
Taking a lead from the more streamlined service that will be provided by TPAS and the Pensions Ombudsman, trustees may want to review and consider updating their own internal dispute resolution procedures. Although a one stage procedure has been possible for the last 10 years, many schemes continue to have a two stage which can often be cumbersome and frustrating for the complainant. Although some trustees may prefer to retain a two stage process, a one stage process may help to resolve disputes more quickly – providing access to the new consolidated body at an earlier stage.
TPAS will continue to focus on providing pension information and guidance, and will become an integral part of the new Single Financial Guidance Body.