9.1.1 Sections 50, 50A and 50B of the Pensions Act 1995 (as inserted by the Pensions Act 2004) and the Occupational Pension Schemes (Internal Dispute Resolution Procedures Consequential and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2008 set out the framework within which occupational schemes must investigate pension complaints.
Disputes, appeals and complaints
Internal dispute resolution (IDR) procedures
What should I do if a member has a complaint about their pension?
9.1.2 A member may approach you if they are unhappy about something to do with their pension. If it is not a straightforward query that you can correct or explain, then the member should be asked to make their complaint to the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP). This should be done in writing and sent by email or post for the attention of the complaints manager, to the details below:
Civil Service Pensions
PO Box 2017
Guidance for members on making complaints can be found on the members section of the website. Please click here to find out more.
How does the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) deal with complaints?
9.1.3 If a member speaks to the Scheme Administrator and raises a concern, but doesn’t yet wish to make a formal complaint, then the Scheme Administrator will aim to resolve it before it becomes a complaint. This may involve explaining to the member the reason for delays, or outlining the different actions being taken by the Scheme Administrator and employer.
If a member makes it clear they are making a complaint, or they are not happy with any initial explanation from the Scheme Administrator, then the Scheme Administrator will start the complaints procedure. If an employer refers a complaint from a member to the Scheme Administrator, then this will also start the complaints procedure. This may involve the Scheme Administrator contacting the employer to query data they hold or to get further information. It is therefore important for the employer to respond to the Scheme Administrator within agreed timescales. The Scheme Administrator will then issue a response to the member to explain how their concerns have been resolved.
If the member does not feel their concerns have been resolved by the Scheme Administrator’s complaint response, then they may wish to use the IDR process.
A flow chart of the complaint and IDR process can be found at Annex A.
A member has the right to refer their complaint free of charge at any stage to The Pensions Ombudsman Early Resolution Service. They can help a member raise their concerns and help deal with complaints and disputes which concern the administration and/or management of occupational and personal pension schemes.
Contact with The Pensions Ombudsman Early Resolution Service about a complaint needs to be made within three years of when the event(s) the member is complaining about happened – or, if later, within three years of when the member became aware of the event. There is discretion for those time limits to be extended.
What is the internal dispute resolution (IDR) process?
9.1.4 This is the scheme’s procedure for resolving member disputes. Civil Service Pensions has a two-stage process to ensure that any concerns can be investigated thoroughly and a resolution is achieved that all parties are happy with.
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has guidance on IDR procedures in their code of practice, which can be accessed here.
What happens in the Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) process?
9.1.5 The IDR process is designed to allow a full investigation to take place, and to give those who are complaining, and those who are being complained about, a chance to give their views. To do this, it’s very likely that the employer will be asked to provide additional information and evidence from the member’s record to support the data provided.
At the first stage the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) will complete the investigation and provide a written response known as a determination.
If the person complaining does not agree with the first stage determination, they can appeal to the Scheme Manager (Cabinet Office) and ask them to investigate and issue a second stage decision. The member must appeal within six months of the date of the first stage determination.
A flow chart explaining the process can be accessed at Annex A.Annexes
What does the Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) procedure cover?
9.1.6 The IDR procedure covers any disagreement under the Civil Service pension arrangements including:
- PCSPS sections I, II, and III – that is classic , classic plus, premium and nuvos;
- the '2015 scheme' alpha;
- Civil Service Compensation Scheme;
- Civil Service Injury Benefit Scheme;
- Civil Service Additional Voluntary Contribution Scheme;
- In limited circumstances, the partnership pension account.
Who can appeal under Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) procedure?
9.1.7 The person complaining must be someone who has an interest, or believes they have an interest, in the scheme. For example, that could be someone who is:
- an active, deferred or pensioner member;
- a pension credit member following a pension sharing order;
- a widow, widower, civil or nominated partner, or
- a dependant of a member who has died or someone claiming to be a death benefit beneficiary.
The person complaining may ask a representative to handle their complaint on their behalf. The member must nominate their representative in writing and the representative must consent to this in writing.
What can the Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) complaint be about?
9.1.8 There are no set definitions that limit what an IDR can be about, and there is no exhaustive list. Broadly speaking if it is a pension related matter then it can be investigated under the IDR procedures.
There are some circumstances when the Scheme Administrator and the Scheme Manager, Cabinet Office cannot consider a complaint under the IDR procedure. These include when:
- proceedings have begun in a court or tribunal about the same disagreement;
- the complaint is about an employment matter – for example, a decision to retire someone early, or the circumstances surrounding a dismissal;
- the complaint is about a decision made by the Scheme Medical Advisor (SMA) – for example a decision not to grant Ill Health Retirement. Please read the guidance on complaints about the SMA, as only complaints about the process and not the decision can be considered.
If you are unsure if a complaint falls into one of the above categories, then you should contact the Scheme Administrator for advice on this before responding to the member. However, if the complaint is not in one of these categories, then the Scheme Administrator and the Scheme Manager, Cabinet Office should be able to investigate. If the complaint does not fall under the remit of IDR, the Scheme Administrator will write to the member to explain this.
What is an employer’s role in the Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) process?
9.1.9 Your role in the IDR process is crucial to ensure the investigation is fair and reaches the right outcome. You will have access to the information and evidence the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) needs to ensure they understand exactly what has happened. In most cases, you will also be given the opportunity to tell the Scheme Administrator your views of the situation, which will be considered before reaching an outcome.
Some examples of the information you may be asked for by the Scheme Administrator or the Scheme Manager (Cabinet Office) are:
- copies of correspondence between you and the member;
- evidence to support the data that’s been provided on the member’s service history;
- documentation from a member’s HR file or their records;
- a timeline of your involvement in events such as a retirement, partial retirement or an ill health retirement application.
Each employer must have a nominated complaints contact who will be contacted by the Scheme Administrator or the Scheme Manager in the event of an IDR complaint. You will need to ensure the Scheme Administrator has up to date information on your current nominated complaints contact including:
- their name;
- their contact address; and
- their email and phone number.
The nominated complaints contact will be sent a Complaint Request Form. This will give details of the complaint and copies of any relevant evidence or information that may be helpful for the investigation. The nominated complaints contact will need to complete the form and return this to the Scheme Administrator or the Scheme Manager.
The completed form will need to include the following:
- your response to the member’s complaint;
- all documents or information requested;
- your explanations for any documents or information that cannot be supplied, and
- any additional evidence you want to be considered.
When the Scheme Administrator or the Scheme Manager request information, they will try and make this as specific as possible and explain why they need this to reach an outcome.
This is to ensure the employer is able to locate exactly what they need and provide any additional evidence you think would contribute to the outcome. If the information is available from different teams within a department, then the nominated complaints contact will need to coordinate getting this information and providing it to the Scheme Administrator or the Scheme Manager.
The required information can be contained in the member’s personal or pension file, so it’s important that thorough searches take place as the information is often crucial to the outcome of a complaint.
Employers have 10 working days to respond to a request for information under IDR. If a response cannot be provided within that timescale, you will need to inform the case handler at the Scheme Administrator or the Scheme Manager of this and provide regular updates.
If you are unable to provide the information that has been requested, it’s important to contact your case handler at the Scheme Administrator or the Scheme Manager to discuss this as soon as possible. They may be able to help you determine if other evidence may be suitable to provide.
If a response is not provided during the investigation, this can affect the outcome of the determination, so it is important you provide any requested information.
If there is no alternative suitable evidence, you will be asked to confirm in writing that the information is unavailable and the steps you have taken to locate this information. EPN551 may apply if the member’s records are missing.
A flow chart explaining the employer’s and the Scheme Administrator’s role in the complaints process is contained in Annex B.
An example of the Complaint Request Form can be found at Annex C.Annexes
Are Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) decisions binding on employers?
9.1.10 At complaint stage, the Scheme Administrator will try to resolve the member’s concerns. You may be asked to provide further information, or directed to take action. These directions are not binding on employers; however it is very likely that if they aren’t completed, the member will submit an IDR Stage 1 application.
Under the terms of the Participation Agreement, the Stakeholders Charter and the Admission Agreement (applicable for New Fair Deal employers), employers are required to comply with IDR determinations issued by or on behalf of the Scheme Manager. Both Stage 1 and Stage 2 decisions under IDR are therefore binding on the employer.
What action does an employer need to take after an Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) decision?
9.1.11 Regardless of whether the complaint is upheld, upheld in part, or not upheld there may be directions that you will need to carry out. You will be told about this in an Employer Feedback Form. The directions will also be in the determination sent to the member, so they know what the next steps are.
You will need to complete the directions as quickly as possible otherwise the member may want to escalate their complaint to Stage 2 or to The Pensions Ombudsman. You will be provided with a timeframe for completing any directions and you must notify the case handler at the Scheme Administrator when these actions have been completed.
A template of the Employer Feedback Form can be viewed at Annex D.Annexes
Are there any deadlines for employers for Internal Dispute Resolution’s (IDR)s?
9.1.12 Employers will have ten working days to respond to a Complaint Request Form during the IDR investigation at both Stage 1 and Stage 2.
If you do not think you will be able to meet this deadline, then you should contact the case handler at the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) or the Scheme Manager (Cabinet Office) as soon as possible.
How long does a complaint or Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) take?
9.1.13 The length of time taken to investigate a complaint or IDR can depend on a number of things, including the subject being complained about or if further investigation or information is required. The Pensions Regulator has said that four months is a reasonable period for completing each stage of the IDR process. However, the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) aims to complete the investigation within two months from receiving the application. The Scheme Manager (Cabinet Office) may take up to four months at Stage 2. It is therefore important you respond to the Scheme Administrator or the Scheme Manager as soon as possible to avoid any delay.
Money and Pensions Service (MAPS)
9.1.14 If members have general requests for information or guidance concerning their pension arrangements, they can contact MAPS as below:
01159 659570 email@example.com
The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO)
9.1.15 If the member is unhappy with the response they receive at Stage 2 of the Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) process, they can appeal to TPO.
TPO is an independent organisation that investigates and determines complaints of maladministration. His determinations are binding on all parties and are enforceable as if they were Court judgements. The Scheme Manager (Cabinet Office) can only challenge TPO decisions in the High Court, but only on a point of law.
As the Scheme Manager will have made the final decision at Stage 2 of the IDR process, they will take responsibility for responding to all TPO investigations. TPO will normally notify the Scheme Manager that they have accepted a complaint from a member, however if you receive a complaint you should also notify the Scheme Manager and send copies of all the papers to them as soon as possible.
The Scheme Manager may ask you to provide information or decide whether you wish to carry out certain actions to resolve a complaint. You or the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) may be named as a party to the appeal, depending on who the member feels should put matters right for them.
If you receive a complaint from TPO, please read the guidance in Annex E.Annexes
9.1.16 There is also information in the member’s section of the website which is available here.