On this page
- How we will deal with your complaint
- What is a formal complaint about the regulator?
- What cannot be dealt with in the regulator's complaints process?
- Plain English
- Data Protection Act
- Before you contact us
How we will deal with your complaint
In the first instance if you have a problem then please contact the member of staff or the team that you originally dealt with to discuss your concerns. We will always take seriously any dissatisfaction with our service and the member of staff may be able to deal with your concerns there and then. If we need to investigate the issues raised in more detail we will advise you of this.
If you are dissatisfied with the way in which your concerns have been handled and you decide you wish to make a formal complaint (the scope of which is set out below), please submit your complaint in writing to the Corporate Secretary. Please list your main areas of concern and include all information relevant to your complaint. Contact details are as follows:
The Corporate Secretary
The Pensions Regulator
Formal complaints should be put in writing unless you are unable to do so. There are practical reasons for this. The regulator needs to ensure it is investigating the substantive issues raised rather than incorrectly interpreting what we believe to be your concerns from previous correspondence with different organisations and / or members of the regulator’s staff.
If you have any accessibility requirements about putting your concerns in writing then we will make every effort to make reasonable adjustments to enable you to fully set out your complaint.
This page outlines what a formal complaint is and how we will deal with your complaint. It also provides information about the restrictions we work under regarding providing information, what we mean by a ‘risk-based regulator’ and other sources of help and advice that may be useful.
What is a formal complaint about the regulator?
A formal complaint about the regulator is one that is directed against us rather than against any other organisation, firm or pension scheme.
The regulator can deal with any complaint about the way in which we have carried out, or failed to carry out, our role. This includes complaints about mistakes or lack of care, unreasonable delay, unprofessional behaviour, bias or lack of integrity by the regulator and its staff.
If you would like to raise any issues or concerns with the regulator which do not come under these headings please go to the contact us page on our website and choose the relevant option.
The regulator operates a two-stage formal complaints process.
The Corporate Governance team will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within five working days of receipt. The Corporate Secretary will then review all the information we have about your complaint including looking at:
- whether staff have taken the right actions procedurally
- whether staff have been courteous and fair
- whether there has been any unreasonable delay or withholding of information
The Corporate Secretary will write to inform you of their findings in writing within 20 working days. If a response will take longer than this, we will keep you informed of progress, the reasons for any delay and when we will reply in full.
If the Corporate Secretary is the subject of a complaint, the Chair of the regulator will look into the matter.
Our response will include if appropriate an explanation of what went wrong, an indication of what steps have been, or will, be taken to put matters right, and whether your complaint is upheld or not. If your complaint is not upheld, our response will explain why.
If you are dissatisfied with the Corporate Secretary's reply you may write to the Chair of the regulator, and ask him to review the matter. When seeking a review by the Chair you will need to set out, in writing, those matters that you remain dissatisfied with. The Chair will acknowledge your stage 2 complaint within five working days and will endeavour to reply within 20 working days.
There are time limits that apply to making a formal complaint. However, we understand that each case is different and as such these time limits may be extended where necessary. As a guide, they are as follows:
- A stage 1 complaint can be made at any time. However, if it is about a particular incident it is best if the complaint is made as soon as possible after the event.
- A stage 2 complaint should be made within 28 days of the date of the stage 1 reply from the regulator.
The Parliamentary Ombudsman can also investigate complaints against the regulator. Normally the Ombudsman will only accept a case if our internal complaints procedure has been exhausted. Complaints can be referred to the Ombudsman by writing to your MP.
What cannot be dealt with in the regulator's complaints process?
We understand that sometimes complaints are made to the regulator because of a misunderstanding about what the regulator can and cannot do.
If you have a query or problem with your pension scheme and / or employer you should always begin by trying to sort it out with them initially.
You should contact the scheme trustees as they are responsible for running the scheme. In many cases they will be able to help sort out the problem. If you do not know who the trustees / managers of the scheme are, the personnel office of the employer should be able to identify them to you. The trustees / scheme managers may delegate day-to-day responsibility to a third party and might suggest you write to that party.
If this does not resolve the problem, the pension scheme will have a complaints procedure you can use, called an internal dispute resolution procedure. This formal dispute procedure will tell you who will deal with your complaint and within what timescales. You may also contact the Pensions Advisory Service.
If you believe your scheme may not be complying with pensions legislation, you can report the scheme to us. However, our regulatory investigation will not necessarily resolve your own complaint against your scheme.
If you no longer have the contact details for the employer and / or scheme the Government’s pension tracing service (to find a lost pension) may be able to assist.
If your complaint is in regard to your employers’ failure to meet its responsibilities under automatic enrolment you can raise a concern by going to whistleblowing and other concerns.
There are some things that the regulator cannot help directly with:
- We are unable to help you with questions about state pensions.
- We are unable to intervene in disputes between individual pension scheme members and scheme trustees, managers or employers.
- We cannot help members with claims for compensation.
- We are unable to deal with complaints regarding the requirement to comply with automatic enrolment and / or complaints about staging dates.
- We are not responsible for making or drafting pensions legislation.
Wherever possible we will use plain English in all our replies, although sometimes we may need to refer to pensions legislation.
Data Protection Act
The regulator recognises the importance of the correct and lawful processing of personal data. We adhere to the principles set out in the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA).
If we think any aspect of your complaint should be handled by another organisation, we will not pass any information to them until we have asked your permission.
You may request details of personal information which the regulator holds about you under the DPA. If you think any personal information we hold about you is incorrect or incomplete, please contact us.
Before you contact us
Before you contact us the following information may be of help to you.
Disclosure of information by the regulator
The regulator strives to be open and transparent regarding regulatory action, within the constraints of pension legislation. However, it is governed by legislation that controls what kinds of information we can disclose, including:
- The Pensions Acts 2004 and 2008
- The Freedom of Information Act 2000
- The Data Protection Act 1998
- The Human Rights Act 1998
The main aim of these disclosure restrictions is to protect individuals (including, for example, pension scheme trustees) from inappropriate release of personal data, to protect companies and individuals from inappropriate release of information given in confidence, and to maintain the integrity of our regulatory investigations.
The Pensions Act 2004 places restrictions on the release of information gathered in the course of our regulatory investigations. Information relating to any investigation or potential investigation carried out by the regulator may be classed as ‘restricted information’ within the meaning of section 82 of the Pensions Act 2004. Section 82(5) provides that it is a criminal offence to disclose such information inappropriately.
This means that often we are unable to go into specifics as to the actions the regulator may or may not have taken in relation to a scheme, or give details as to what information we have gathered.
The regulator's risk-based approach
The regulator is funded by a levy on the schemes it regulates. Given these finite resources its approach is necessarily risk-based, focusing on education and enablement, with enforcement where appropriate enabling the regulator to meet its statutory objectives.
We categorise the risks we identify in terms of the threat they pose, the extent to which we can mitigate them and the regulator’s willingness to accept risk. We focus on those areas where our actions are likely to have the greatest impact.
We have provided detailed guidance on our website as to how we put into effect our risk-based approach if we identify a possible problem. This is also relevant if a concern or complaint has been raised with us.