The Government today announced its proposals for reform of public bodies. Amongst them is the merger of the Pensions Ombudsman and the Pensions Protection Fund Ombudsman, currently separate statutory offices but run as one body with the same person holding both posts.
Press enquiries should be directed to the Department for Work and Pensions press office: Katie Martin on 0203 267 5130.
Why is the merger of the Pensions Ombudsman and the Pension Protection Fund Ombudsman being proposed?
Ministers believe that maintaining two distinct arms length bodies to carry out these roles is no longer necessary. The roles of the Pensions Ombudsman and the Pension Protection Fund Ombudsman, whilst distinct, have been undertaken by one person with support provided by a single office. This arrangement has worked well and it is now sensible to unify both bodies. This will deliver a more coherent and streamlined approach, simplifying the pensions institutional landscape.
Why are the two bodies currently separate?
The Pensions Ombudsman was established in the Social Security Act 1990. When the Pension Protection Fund Ombudsman was created in 2005 it was not known how its workload would develop and whether it was feasible to have one person and one office carrying out both functions in the longer term.
Maintaining both bodies as distinct entities has provided flexibility but this is no longer needed.
Is the substance of either role being changed?
There is no intention to make any change in the substance of either role. The policy and legislative framework for both functions is being carried forward but the merging statutory roles will provide for simpler operational management.
Will the merger result in any staff surpluses or job losses?
Like every other public sector organisation, the Pensions Ombudsman is currently looking at ways of delivering his services more efficiently. Currently, Pensions Ombudsman staff carry out Pension Protection Fund Ombudsman work. The latter forms a very small proportion of the total casework, which will not reduce overall as a result of the merger. There are no staff dedicated to the Pension Protection Fund Ombudsman. So it is not envisaged that the merger will of itself affect the number of staff.
What savings are anticipated from this merger?
There should be savings of up to £10,000 per annum in those administrative areas where separate identities for the Pension Protection Fund Ombudsman and the Pensions Ombudsman are currently maintained, in particular auditing costs but also website maintenance and record keeping. Although this change will generate small savings, it does simplify the pensions landscape overall.