News type:
Thu 12 Jul 2018

The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) today publishes its Annual Report and Accounts 2017/18. The Report highlights the transformation that has taken place within The Pensions Ombudsman, including the merger of The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) dispute resolution team, against a back drop of an increase in cases accepted for investigation.

Anthony Arter, Pensions Ombudsman, said:

“We have had an exciting year with a number of important changes and achievements. In March this year, we welcomed 15 staff and 240 volunteers from TPAS’ dispute resolution team. We are the first ombudsman service to incorporate volunteers into its service but more importantly it is now easier and quicker for our customers to resolve their pension disputes. To support this new structure, we have streamlined our processes so that every enquiry or complaint is passed to the team that can most effectively deal with it; resolving it as quickly as possible; avoiding duplication as much as possible; and with no loss of quality.

Earlier this year, we moved our offices to the Government Hub in Canary Wharf. We expect this move to improve our efficiency through the implementation of smarter and more flexible working practices. As part of our Digitalisation Programme, we have introduced new technology including a new cloud platform; innovative softphone technology; and collaboration tools; to support more agile ways of working. A smarter working policy supports staff in our new ways of working, giving them the resources they need to focus on the job in hand. Although it’s early days, our latest staff survey shows that 95% of our staff feel positive about its introduction.

Despite the transformation process, last year we saw an increase of 26% in the number of cases accepted for investigation. Time spent on the refinement of our processes has been well spent and we have maintained our average of resolving around 70% of cases informally. With our overall timescales for closing cases halved to five months. This can only be good news for complainants and respondents, as it reduces the considerable stress, time and resources spent in the dispute process.”

Our caseload

  • We handled 6,319 enquiries, an increase of 5% from 2016/17.
  • We took on 1,676 cases for investigation, 265 more than in 2016/17.
  • We completed 1,591 investigations. While less than planned, this was still 13% more than 2016/17, with a similar adjudicator resource.
  • We cleared our backlog with the exception of 20 cases we were unable to complete due to reasons outside our control.
  • 70% of cases were resolved informally by our adjudicators and 30% formally with an Ombudsman’s decision.
  • 29% of cases formally decided by an Ombudsman were upheld or partly upheld.
  • Cases concerning the actions of the Pension Protection Fund continue to form a small part of our work, with 14 new referrals and 3 accepted for investigation in the year.
  • Complaints about transfers (such as the calculation or payment of transfer values), the incorrect calculation of benefits and the failure to act on instructions continued to be the most common topics of completed investigations.

 Our performance

  • We completed investigations in an average of five months, against a target of seven months.
  • 41% of completed cases were resolved or the complaint withdrawn and 25% of cases were closed following the acceptance of an Adjudicator’s Opinion.
  • 31% of complaints were completed by a Determination following an Adjudicator’s Opinion.
  • 2% of complaints resulted in a Determination following an Ombudsman’s Preliminary Decision– the percentage is low because far fewer investigations follow this very formal process.