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Purnell welcomes call for the merging of FOS and PO

Pensions minister James Purnell has welcomed the Thornton Review findings including calls for the Financial Ombudsman Service to be combined with the Pensions Ombudsman.

Former president of the Institute of Actuaries Paul Thornton began his review in January and this week published his report which proposes the creation of a pensions jurisdiction within the FOS, in which the PO would sit.

The report also calls for closer co-operation between the Pension Protection Fund and The Pensions Regulator and the bolstering of co-operation and co-ordination between the FSA and TPR, particularly for defined contribution schemes.

Purnell says: “I would like to thank Paul Thornton for all his hard work. He has conducted the review with determination and focus, and has gained plaudits from the institutions themselves and from wider stakeholders for his open and responsive approach.

“We intend to fully implement his proposals and are working with the institutions and stakeholders to develop practical proposals to ensure the framework continues to support current and future pensioners.”

But ABI director general Stephen Haddrill has warned against a combination of the two ombudsman.

Haddrill says: “We agree that the Pensions Regulator should be given responsibility for overseeing the Personal Accounts Board. This would help to ensure that there is a level regulatory playing field for Personal Accounts and the existing private pensions market.

“However, we do not support proposals to merge the Pensions Ombudsman and the Financial Ombudsman Service. The two bodies have distinct remits and significant differences in their approach. Rather than merging, the two bodies should concentrate on improving the handling of their existing cases.”

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