What we do
What we do
Most of the time people have no problem with the way their pensions are run, but occasionally things do go wrong.
If that happens and you are not happy with the way your pension scheme has dealt with a situation, you can ask us to look into it for you.
We will look at what both parties have to say before deciding how the problem should be resolved.
The Pensions Ombudsman combines in one organisation the Pensions Ombudsman and the Pension Protection Fund Ombudsman. Our primary function is handling pension complaints and disputes. We act impartially and our service is free.
We are an independent organisation set up by law. We work within legislation set down by parliament, which means there are rules about what we can and can’t investigate.
Find out more about our legal framework for personal and occupational pensions; and for the Pension Protection Fund and the Financial Assistance Scheme.
The main legislation is the Pension Schemes Act 1993, Part X. Under this Act we have powers to deal with complaints of maladministration and disputes of fact or law concerning personal and occupational pension schemes.
The power to decide these matters rests with the Pensions Ombudsman and Deputy Pensions Ombudsman who are appointed by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Only an Ombudsman can make a final and binding decision on a case, however under the Act they can delegate any other responsibilities to other people in the organisation.
There are regulations made under the Act that deal with:
- our powers - the Personal and Occupational Pension Schemes (Pensions Ombudsman) Regulations 1996
- our procedures - the Personal and Occupational Pension Schemes (Pensions Ombudsman) (Procedure) Rules 1995
- how to enforce determinations in England and Wales - the County Court (Pensions Ombudsman) (Enforcement of Directions and Determinations) Rules 1993.
Particular parts of the legislation that may be important are section 146 of the Act which says, along with regulation 2, 3 and 4 of the 1996 Regulations, what we can and cannot investigate and who can bring matters to us, plus regulation 5 of the 1996 Regulations which sets out the time limits for doing so.
The main legislation is the Pensions Act 2004, sections 209 to 218. Under this Act we have powers to deal with references of “reviewable matters”, which are decisions made by the Board of the Pension Protection Fund and reviewable by their reconsideration committee and by us.
The decisions covered are listed in Schedule 9 to the Act. We also have powers to deal with complaints of injustice caused by maladministration by the Board of the Pension Protection Fund or anyone carrying out its functions on its behalf.
The Pension Protection Fund (Reference of Reviewable Matters to the PPF Ombudsman) Regulations 2005 set out the particular powers and procedures that relate to references of reviewable matters.
The Pension Protection Fund (Investigation by PPF Ombudsman of Complaints of Maladministration) Regulations 2005 set out the particular powers and procedures that relate to complaints of maladministration.
Under the Financial Assistance Scheme (Appeals) Regulations 2005 we have power to deal with appeals against review decisions of the Board of the Pension Protection Fund acting as the manager of the Financial Assistance Scheme. There is a list of matters that may be subject to such decisions in regulation 2 of The Financial Assistance Scheme (Internal Review) Regulations 2005.
The power to decide these matters rests with the Pension Protection Fund Ombudsman (and Deputy Pension Protection Fund Ombudsman) who are appointed by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
Only an Ombudsman can make a final and binding decision on a case, however under the legislation they can delegate any other responsibilities to other people in the organisation.
When an Ombudsman makes a decision it is final and binding on both parties.
We can usually only deal with complaints about pension schemes administered in the UK. If you have a complaint about a pension scheme administered in the Isle of Man please contact:
There is an Operational Executive and a Corporate Board. The Operational Executive Board is responsible for decisions relating to the day-to-day running of the organisation.
The Corporate Board is responsible for the strategic direction of the organisation and focuses on our:
- strategic risks
- performance against our key performance indicators.
You can find out more about Operational Executive and Corporate Board members in Who we are.
What we can do
We can look at complaints about the way personal and occupational pension schemes are run. You can complain to us about the employer, trustee, manager or administrator of the scheme.
We can look at things like:
- taking too long to do something without good reason
- failing to do something they should have
- not following their own rules or the law
- breaking a promise
- giving incorrect or misleading information
- not making a decision in the right way
If you are an employer, trustee or manager of a scheme, find out what we can help you with in ‘Can I complain?’
What we can’t do
There are some things that we cannot look at, including:
- complaints about State Pensions
- tracing a lost pension
- sales or marketing (mis-selling) of pensions
- where a decision has been made by a tribunal, court or another Ombudsman
One of the organisations listed on our Useful links page may be able to help if we are unable to.
If you are an employer, trustee or manager of a scheme, find out what we cannot help you with in ‘Can I complain?’
Vision, Aims & Values
Find out what’s important to us and what we want to achieve.
A trusted, fair, impartial service that makes it easy for everyone to resolve pension complaints.
- Get the right outcome every time and in good time – by being proportionate, efficient and consistent with the law.
- Make it easier to resolve complaints about pensions – by ensuring more people know where to go for help and by working closely with our stakeholders and partners.
- Provide a trusted, accessible service – by listening, delivering on promises and being honest about what we can and cannot do.
- Deliver value for money – by making a difference to how pension schemes are run and by continually reviewing and improving the way we work.
- Ensure everyone who works here is supported to succeed – by being a good employer and helping people develop their potential.
- Fair – we look at the facts, without taking sides and we are always impartial. We take our responsibilities seriously.
- Collaborative – we share what we know so everyone can do a better job. We seek out opportunities to work with others and then take action to make it happen.
- Open – we are approachable and make it easy for people to get the help they need. We are honest and transparent about how and why we make our decisions.
- Show respect – we are considerate and take people’s needs into account. We believe in treating people with dignity and we welcome different points of view.
- Build trust – we take pride in our work and do our best to get it right. We always do what we say we will.
- Keep learning – we are open to change and want to find better ways of doing things. We stay positive, take charge of our own development and support people trying something new.