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SECTION 14: COMPLAINTS AND DISPUTES


14.1     Guide to Legislation

14.2     Resolving Complaints Early

14.3     Complaints Procedure

14.4     Informal Disputes

14.5     Formal Disputes

14.6     Subsequent Action

 

Feedback

SPPA welcomes customer feedback, direct or indirect, good or bad. When something goes wrong it is important that the cause of the problem is known and resolved in order that repetition can be avoided.

Complaints to SPPA can be registered in writing. The outcome of any complaint may be used to inform procedural improvements or the Business Planning process.

 

14.1    Guide to Legislation

This guide sets out the procedures used by NHSSSS. These procedures comply with Section 50 of The Pension Act 1995 and reg 2 of the Occupational Pension Schemes (Internal Dispute Resolution Procedures Consequential and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2008.

These arrangements do not apply if any court or tribunal proceedings have started or if the Pensions Ombudsman or the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman has begun an investigation.

To comply with the legislation, SPPA have introduced a formal complaints procedure, timescales and record keeping required by both the Pensions and Disclosure of Information Acts.

 

14.2    Resolving Complaints Early

Within the schemes regulations and the rules governing independent review, staff have considerable autonomy for dealing speedily with complaints.

The avenue for correspondents to approach SPPA senior management directly, right up to SPPA Chief Executive, remains available under these formal complaint procedures.

 

14.3    Complaints Procedure

SPPA strives to provide a high quality of service not only to our membership, but also to their respective employers whose cooperation we rely on so heavily.

SPPA aim to be helpful and to ensure that information about pension records and entitlement to benefits is always correct and up to date. However, many pension issues are complex and there may be times when employers or members may believe that SPPA has made a mistake, do not agree with a decision, or that a case has not been dealt with to their satisfaction.

This section of the Employer Guide describes the mechanisms SPPA has in place to deal with all types of Complaints and Disputes.

 

14.4    Informal Disputes

Requests for simple clarification of issues are usually dealt with by normal correspondence. Complaints about generally poor service, rudeness or unhelpfulness by SPPA staff are classified 'informal' but dealt with in much the same way as the 'formal' disputes covered by the Pensions Act. .

When a disagreement or complaint is established, the enquiry is logged in a register.

SPPA aim to resolve any problems immediately if possible, or, if necessary carry out further investigation, within prescribed time scales, keeping the complainant informed at all stages.

Further information can be found in the IDRP Guide.

 

14.5    Formal Disputes

Formal disputes about decisions made or queries about the accuracy of information given by SPPA are dealt with using the documentation and timescales required by the Pensions Act.

This provides for a maximum of 2 internal, but independent, reviews of the dispute within published deadlines. First stage reviews, (IDRP1) are considered by a an "appointed person" not previously involved with the original decision.

Full details of their independence, SPPA's Internal Dispute Resolution Procedures and the timescales for dealing with the complaint, are provided to the complainant.

If, after IDRP stage 1, the complainant still disagrees, they would then move to the second stage review (IDRP2). At this stage, the case will be passed to SPPA's Policy, Strategy and Development branch who will consider the complaint.

If the complainant is still dissatisfied with SPPA's decision, written details of recourse are provided to the Scottish Ministers for a formal Determination involving disputes about the application of the NHSSSS Regulations. These same details are provided to the Pensions Ombudsman through the Occupational Pensions Advisory Service (OPAS).

Further information can be found in the IDRP Guide.

 

14.6. Subsequent Action

If, after completing the formal IDRP stages, the member is still not satisfied, advice can be sought from The Pension Advisory Service (TPAS). 

Finally the member may take their case to the Pensions Ombudsman (PO) or The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO). The Ombudsman expects individuals complaining to him to have consulted The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) first.  This organisation provides free help and advice to people who have problems with occupational or personal pensions. 

The Contact Details for The Pensions Ombudsman are:

The Pensions Ombudsman
11 Belgrave Road
London
SW1V 1RB
 
Tel: 020 7834 9144

 

The contact details for The Pensions Advisory Service are:

The Pensions Advisory Service
11 Belgrave Road
London
SW1V 1RB
 
Tel: 0845 601 2923

 

The contact details for The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman are:

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
Freepost SPSO
 
Tel: 0800 377 7330

 

Link to Scottish Government Website