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Pensions Ombudsman and TPAS in dispute resolution overhaul

The Pensions Ombudsman is to take over all dispute resolution previously handled by it and The Pensions Advisory Service.

Under the current system, people can ask TPAS to help settle a dispute before a formal complaint is made to their pension scheme.

Or, they can go straight to TPO, which has legal powers to settle complaints if they cannot be resolved between the scheme and the member.

Under the new system, TPAS’s dispute resolution function will move to TPO.

The change is to take effect from 1 April and will see 350 TPAS volunteers, who currently deal with dispute queries, work from TPO’s Canary Wharf offices.

A TPO spokeswoman says average complaint resolution times have already halved from 10 months to just under six months.

Pensions ombudsman Anthony Arter says: “We have been working with TPAS to create one centre for the resolution of pension disputes, helping to ensure a simpler and quicker customer journey.”

He says: “Bringing the TPO and TPAS dispute resolution teams together will end the confusion over who to contact, provide consistency of approach and speed up the resolution of pension disputes.”

TPAS chief executive Michelle Cracknell says: “We have been working with TPO to ensure that customers find the right place to get the help that they need and for both organisations to move customers seamlessly between the services to ensure that the customer gets the right help.”

Pensions minister Guy Opperman adds: “The decision to transfer disputes resolution work to The Pensions Ombudsman will both simplify how these complaints are handled, but should also give savers the confidence that their disputes will be resolved as quickly as possible.”

TPAS will continue to focus on providing pension information and guidance. It will be part of the new single financial guidance body.

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