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Celebrating 30 years of resolving pension disputes


April marks the start of a campaign to celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO). The service started investigating and determining complaints and disputes about occupational and personal pension schemes on 1 April 1991 after the Occupational Pensions Board concluded there was a need for a body to adjudicate pensions disputes. 

Since TPO was established, over 100,000 written enquiries have been received, more than 25,000 disputes have been resolved and almost 9,000 Determinations have been issued by five Ombudsmen and four Deputy Ombudsmen. 

TPO is unique in that our Determinations are legally binding and can put people back into the same position they would have been in had their need for complaint never arisen, regardless of the cost. 

It is also the only Ombudsman service to have a network of Volunteer Advisers, all pension experts, who resolve cases as part of the Early Resolution Service. There are almost 200 Volunteer Advisers who helped to resolve 2,000 complaints through the Early Resolution Service during 2019/20.

Anthony Arter, Pensions Ombudsman said:

“Reaching our 30th anniversary is a great achievement. We are proud to offer such a vital service as a free and impartial alternative to the courts. 

Over the years, the organisation has grown considerably in response to increasing demand for our service, we now have 113 staff, compared to 14 in 1991. The number of people approaching us with an enquiry has increased by 44% over the last five years – from 4,998 in 2015/16 to 8,977 in 2019/20.

We have also had to change our approach to continue to meet the needs of our customers. Since I joined in 2015, a significant change has been to resolve complaints informally, at an earlier stage. In May 2015, 100% of cases were resolved formally, by February 2016 70% of cases were resolved informally. This new approach has been further assisted by the Early Resolution Team transferring over from The Pensions Advisory Service in 2018 so that in 2019/20, 95% of cases were resolved informally.

TPO has certainly undergone many transformations over the years. There is no doubt, demand will continue to rise and we will need to remain flexible and adapt to our customers’ needs as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic becomes clearer.  As TPO celebrates its 30th anniversary, we are ready for the challenges ahead.” 

Caroline Rookes, Chair of TPO said:

“The celebration of TPO’s 30th anniversary is a momentous occasion and I am delighted to be a part of it. In this anniversary year, the Corporate Board will be expanded with the appointment of three Non-Executive Directors and we will be welcoming a new Pensions Ombudsman when Anthony Arter’s appointment comes to an end. It is going to be an exciting and challenging year and I look forward to working with TPO colleagues to continue to deliver an excellent service.”

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