The Pensions Ombudsman is to take over the dispute resolution function currently managed by the Pensions Advisory Service. Under the existing system, customers can contact the Pensions Ombudsman or the Pensions Advisory Service for assistance in dealing with a pension issue. The Pensions Advisory Service primarily handles complaints which have not yet been through a pension scheme’s internal dispute resolution procedure (IDRP), while the Pensions Ombudsman focuses mainly on complaints where the IDRP has been completed.
Following the transfer, which is due to take effect on 1 April 2018, all dispute resolution services previously handled by the two services will instead be run solely by the Pensions Ombudsman. The Ombudsman says that the move will ‘lead to a smoother customer journey and improved complaint handling,’ with complaint resolution times expected to halve to just over five months.
The Pensions Advisory Service will continue in existence following the transfer of its dispute resolution team to the Pensions Ombudsman but its focus will be on providing pension information and guidance to the public. In due course it will become part of a new single financial guidance body by merging with the Money Advisory Service and Pension Wise. This body will offer advice on pensions, debt and other money issues.
The Pensions Ombudsman and the Pensions Advisory Service will be updating their websites and communications to the public and the pensions industry in the near future to clarify the role of each organisation going forwards.