Complaints procedure for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue members

How do I make a complaint?

If you want to make a formal complaint about a decision that has been made in relation to your pension, or about the service that you have received from us, write to:

Director of Corporate Operations
The Castle
Winchester
Hampshire
SO23 8UB

What happens and how long will it take?

The complaint will be investigated by a senior manager and a full reply will be given to you. If we’ve got something wrong, we will do our best to put it right. We will admit our mistakes and offer a full apology. We will review our policies and procedures to try and stop it happening again.

We will acknowledge your complaint within five working days from the date of receipt and tell you how long it will take to give you a full reply. We try to respond quickly to complaints and to reply to you within 20 working days.

Sometimes, due to the complexity of the complaint, we will not be able to meet this timescale. If this happens we will write to you and keep you fully informed of the progress being made.

Internal Dispute Resolution Procedure (IDRP)

Making an informal enquiry, or formal complaint, does not affect your statutory right to have your dispute heard under the Internal Dispute Resolution Procedure (IDRP).

You can use the IDRP if you are not happy with any decision affecting you made in relation to the Scheme. You also have the right to use the procedure if a decision should have been made by your employer or administering authority, but it hasn't been.

The IDRP is a process in which the decision which has been made is reviewed by an independent person.

Who can use the IDRP?

You can use the formal process if you are:

An active, deferred or pensioner member

Someone who is paying into the scheme, or who used to pay in, or who is receiving a pension.

A prospective member

Someone who is not yet a member, but could become one if their employer brings them in or they choose to join.

A dependant

Someone who is the widow, widower, surviving civil or nominated partner, or a child of a member or prospective member.

You can also use this process if you think you should fall into one of these categories, or you did so in the last six months.

You can choose to have someone else represent you. This representative can be whoever you like such as friend, relative, solicitor or union representative.

Stage one of the IDRP

You must put a dispute in writing and send it within six months of receiving the decision you are disputing, to:

Email: [email protected]

Internal Dispute Resolution co-ordinator
HR Business Support Team
Corporate Resources
Hampshire County Council
The Castle
Winchester
Hampshire
SO23 8UJ

Your complaint will be considered carefully by an Accountable Officer nominated by the Chief Fire Officer. That person is required to give you their decision in writing, within two months of receiving your appeal.

If the nominated person's decision is contrary to the decision you complained about, the employer or administering authority who made that original decision will now have to deal with your case in accordance with the nominated person's decision.

Any decision must be given to you in writing, stating the legislation relied upon. It must let you know that if you are still dissatisfied you have the right to go to stage two of the IDRP within six months of receiving the stage one decision.

Stage two of the IDRP

If you are still dissatisfied, you or your representative must put your signed dispute in writing. Enclose a copy of the stage one decision, and send it within six months of receiving the stage one decision, to:

Email: [email protected]

Internal Dispute Resolution co-ordinator
HR Business Support Team
Corporate Resources
Hampshire County Council
The Castle
Winchester
Hampshire
SO23 8UJ

Your appeal will be considered by an Accountable Officer who has not previously been involved with the case, nominated by the Chief Fire Officer, and advised by a suitably qualified solicitor from Hampshire Legal Services.

The stage two decision will be given to you in writing and state the legislation relied upon.

Help and support

At any stage, you can contact Money Helper for help and advice regarding your pension. Their contact details are:

Money Helper
Money and Pensions Services
120 Holborn, London, EC1N 2TD 

Phone: 0800 011 3797

Website: www.pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk

Further route of appeal

If the dispute or complaint cannot be resolved by the IDRP process or after intervention by The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) then you can apply for an adjudication to the Pensions Ombudsman within three years of the event which gave rise to the complaint.

The Pensions Ombudsman can investigate and determine any complaint or dispute involving maladministration or matters of fact or law. Their decision is final and binding, but matters where legal proceedings have already started cannot be investigated.

The Pensions Ombudsman solely deals with pension complaints and can help if you have a complaint or dispute about the administration (including transfers/conversion) and/or management of personal and occupational pensions.

The types of pension arrangements the Pensions Ombudsman looks at includes:

  • executive, group, and personal pension plans
  • self-invested personal pensions (SIPP)
  • small self-administered pension schemes
  • workplace, employer, and stakeholder pension schemes
  • free standing additional voluntary contribution schemes
  • annuities and section 32 buy-out policies

Some examples of types of complaints the Pension Ombudsman considers include:

  • auto enrolment
  • benefits: incorrect calculation/refusal/failure to pay or late payment
  • charges/fees
  • death benefits
  • failure to provide information/act on instructions
  • fund switches
  • guaranteed Annuity Rate
  • ill health
  • interpretation of scheme rules/policy terms
  • misquote/misinformation
  • Payment/pension increases
  • pension liberation
  • transfers: general
  • winding up
  • with-profits issues

There is no financial limit on the amount of money that The Pensions Ombudsman can make a party award you. Its determinations are legally binding on all the parties and are enforceable in court.

Contact with The Pensions Ombudsman about a complaint needs to be made within three years of when the event(s) you are complaining about happened. If later, within three years of when you first knew about it (or ought to have known about it). There is discretion for those time limits to be extended.

The Pensions Ombudsman can be contacted at:

10 South Colonnade
Canary Wharf
London
E14 4PU

Phone: 0800 917 4487
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.pensions-ombudsman.org.uk

You can also submit a complaint form online.