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A year of firsts for TPO as its transformation continues


The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) today publishes its Annual Report and Accounts for 2018/19. The Report highlights the continuing transformation that has taken place within The Pensions Ombudsman, against a backdrop of an increase in demand, especially for early resolution cases.

Anthony Arter, Pensions Ombudsman, said:

It has been another incredibly busy and exciting year for us as the changes from 2017/18 have had a chance to bed in. This is our first Annual Report to include the work of the Early Resolution Team that incorporates 240 volunteer pension specialists.

Although we have seen only a modest increase in the number of complaints accepted for investigation, the number of early resolution cases we took on was 50% higher than anticipated, meaning our output has tripled overall.

Our expanded remit and associated increase in headcount have necessitated an ongoing review of our internal systems and processes to make sure we have the right resource in place to respond to our customers’ needs.

Through improving our processes, we have successfully maintained an average time of 5.3 months to complete new investigations and more cases than ever before (almost 90%) are being resolved at an earlier stage without the need for an ombudsman’s involvement; making it quicker and easier for all parties concerned.

2018/19 has been a year of firsts for TPO including; celebrating the first year at our new offices in Canary Wharf; introducing a new quality evaluation team to improve the customer journey; launching a new Case Management System as part of our Digitalisation Programme; and, alongside extending our Stakeholder Engagement Programme, holding our first Consumer Panel to give our customers a voice.

Our caseload

  • We received 8,205 phone enquiries and 5,759 written enquiries.
  • We took on 1,528 new investigations, (representing a 5% increase on last year when groups of complaints are discounted).
  • We completed 1,268 investigations, resolved 2,165 early resolution cases and 1,361 written quick responses (complaints that are clearly resolvable with the minimum of intervention).
  • 80% of cases were resolved informally by our adjudicators with a further 8% being resolved without an ombudsman’s decision; meaning almost 90% were resolved without the need for an ombudsman’s intervention.
  • 28% 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 13 new referrals and 5 accepted for investigation in the year.
  • Complaints about failure to act on instructions, transfers (such as the calculation or payment of transfer values) and the incorrect calculation of benefits continued to be the most common topics of completed investigations.

Our performance

  • We completed new investigations in an average of 5.3 months, against a target of 6 months.
  • 80% of cases were concluded by resolution.
  • A further 8% were concluded following the acceptance of an Adjudicator’s Opinion.
  • 9% 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.
  • 1% of complaints were discontinued.

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