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02 Sep 03: Office of the Pensions Ombudsman opens for business

OFFICE OF THE PENSIONS OMBUDSMAN OPENS FOR BUSINESS - MINISTER MARY COUGHLAN Mary Coughlan TD, Minister for Social and Family Affairs formally opened the Office of the Pension Ombudsman for business today. The Pensions Ombudsman, Mr Paul Kenny, will now receive and investigate complaints arising from the operation of Occupational Pensions Schemes and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs). "The opening of the Pensions Ombudsman’s Office is another important element in the reform process which commenced with the passing of the Pensions (Amendment) Act last year. ”It will greatly enhance the protection our system of regulation offers for members of pensions schemes especially at a time when we are trying to encourage people to plan better for their retirement," said Social and Family Affairs Minister Mary Coughlan. “In less than two weeks the next major initiative in the reform process will take effect. Provisions I have introduced will require employers to provide access to PRSAs for their employees from the 15th of September. I would urge employers to study the material they have received and to avail of the many supports providers are offering to assist them in discharging their responsibilities,” said Minister Coughlan. Pensions Ombudsman, Mr Paul Kenny, said: “I have no doubt of the need for this Office. Mistakes do take place; administration standards are not always what they should be. I can never see the day coming when the Pensions Ombudsman is applying for redundancy; but I hope that, in the process of delivering redress to those who have complaints, the experience and knowledge we gain from what’s actually happening out there can be fed back into the system and may help to build the foundations of better practice for the future.” The Pensions Ombudsman is legally independent under the Pensions Act and has the power to investigate and determine complaints in relation to occupational pension schemes and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs). ENDS - 2nd September 2003