The Pensions Ombudsman – Coronavirus (COVID-19) update
Following an initial restrictions in service due to COVID-19, the Pensions Ombudsman has been accepting new applications by email since 22 April 2020 and at the same time their phone lines were reopened from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. In their August newsletter they advised the following:-
‘As lockdown measures continue to ease, at The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) we have begun preparations for a limited and gradual return to our office when it is safe to do so. Since our office building reopened, a small team of staff has returned to deal with the incoming and outgoing post but as access to the building is restricted, so is access to our post. The majority of our staff will continue to work remotely, so please continue to correspond with us electronically wherever possible.’
You will find the latest updates on their service restrictions here
Who can help me if I have a query or complaint?
If you are in any doubt about your pension benefit entitlements, or have a problem or question about your pension scheme membership or benefits, please contact the Avon Pension Fund.
We will seek to clarify or put right any misunderstandings or inaccuracies as quickly and efficiently as possible.
If your query is about your contribution rate, please contact your employer’s personnel/HR or payroll section so they can explain how they have decided which contribution band you are in.
If you are still dissatisfied with any decision made in relation to the scheme you have the right to have your complaint reviewed under the scheme’s Internal Disputes Resolution Procedure.
Internal Disputes Resolution Procedure (IDRP)
In the first instance you should write to the adjudicator appointed by the body who made the decision about which you wish to appeal. You must do this within six months of the date of the notification of the decision or the act or omission about which you are complaining (or such longer period as the adjudicator considers reasonable). This is a formal review of the initial decision or act or omission and is an opportunity for the matter to be reconsidered. The adjudicator will consider your complaint and notify you of his or her decision.
If you are dissatisfied with that person’s decision, (or their failure to make a decision) you may apply to the Avon Pension Fund to have it reconsidered.
The Avon Pension Fund can tell you who your employer's/the Fund’s adjudicator is.
View our Internal Disputes Resolution Procedure guidance and form for you to complete about your complaint.
There are also a number of other regulatory bodies that may be able to assist you.
The Money and Pensions Service (MAPS)
MAPS can assist members and beneficiaries of the scheme in connection with any pension query they may have or any difficulty which they cannot resolve with the scheme administrator.
Info and contact details - https://moneyandpensionsservice.org.uk/
The Pensions Advisory Service, 120 Holborn, London, EC1N 2TD
Telephone: 0800 011 3797
In cases where a complaint or dispute has not been satisfactorily resolved through the Internal Disputes Resolution Procedure or with the help of MAPS, an application can be made to the Pensions Ombudsman within three years of the event that gave rise to the complaint or dispute. The Ombudsman can investigate and determine any complaint or dispute involving maladministration of the scheme or matters of fact or law and his or her decision is final and binding (unless the case is taken to the appropriate Court on a point of law). Matters where legal proceedings have already started cannot be investigated by the Pensions Ombudsman.
Info and contact details - www.pensions-ombudsman.org.uk
The Pensions Ombudsman Service, 10 South Colonnade, Canary Wharf, E14 4PU
Telephone: 0800 917 4487
The Pensions Regulator
The Pensions Regulator has powers to protect members of work-based pension schemes and a wide range of powers to help put matters right, where needed. In extreme cases, the regulator is able to fine trustees or employers, and remove trustees from a scheme.
Info and contact details - www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk
How can I trace my pension rights or any ‘lost’ pension?
The Pension Tracing Service holds details of pension schemes, including the LGPS, together with contact addresses. It provides a tracing service for ex-members of schemes with pension entitlements (and their dependants) who have lost touch with previous schemes.
Info and contact details - www.gov.uk/find-lost-pension
This website may also help trace any lost pension you may have.