The Department for Work and Pensions and The Pensions Regulator have attempted to clarify how schemes should direct members wishing to make a complaint or get more information.
Earlier this year, TPO took on complaints adjudication powers previously held by The Pensions Advisory Service. However, schemes have reported confusion over whether they would have to put customers through their own internal dispute resolution process first before referring a complaint on to TPO.
There has also been uncertainty over whether schemes should still direct customers to TPAS if they want general information, despite the fact the sevice is being subsumed into a new combined public guidance body later this year.
A letter from the DWP and TPR explains that while legislation is not in place yet, it will not look to penalise schemes referring complaints on to TPO without first using their own internal process, and that TPAS can be flagged for customers wanting information.
Pensions ombudsman Anthony Arter says: “This is very welcome news for the pensions industry. Since TPAS’ dispute resolution function transferred to TPO in March 2018, there has been some understandable reluctance on the part of schemes to change their signposting and risk non-compliance with existing legislation. This clarifies the situation for everyone.”
“ TPAS deals with guidance requests and TPO deals with all complaints and
disputes. Customers using our Early Resolution Service at TPO will not be expected to have first used a scheme’s [internal dispute process] if the parties are happy with that.”