Our standards

We’re dedicated to looking after the pension rights of our scheme members and we’ve set out standards for the services we provide.


We aim to provide the best possible service and when you contact us our staff will:

  • Deal with you promptly, efficiently and fairly and in an easy-to-understand way
  • Let you know our service standards
  • Get back to you as quickly as possible with information if we can’t answer your query on the spot
  • Treat you with respect
  • Treat you as an individual.

What you can expect from us: 

New members

Joining the scheme

  • We’ll send you confirmation of your membership in the scheme within 20 working days of receiving the information from your employer.

Transferring pension in

  • If you choose to defer your decision on transferring pension in, we’ll send you one reminder before the deadline for a decision
  • We’ll tell you what scheme membership your previous pension would buy within 10 working days of us receiving the information.

Current members

  • We’ll send you a newsletter to the address provided by your employer. The newsletter will let you know that your annual pension forecast is available online to help you plan for your retirement
  • We’ll provide an online facility to allow you to model your retirement benefits at different dates.

 

If you die while paying into the Scheme

  • We’ll pay a lump sum death grant within seven working days of getting the necessary documentation

Let anyone who is to receive a dependents’ pensions know the amount due within five working days of receiving the documents that we need

Pension will be paid on the next pay date (currently 15th of month in arrears) after all documentation has been received. 

 

When you leave the Scheme

  • We’ll notify members holding more than 3 months, but less than 2 years’ service, of their options at leaving.  As there’s a one month and a day lying period, the target is within 10 days of the end of the lying period or after the employer providing full leaving information if later. There’s a one month qualifying period before we can process any refunds
  • We’ll pay refunds within 7 working days of receipt of your completed declaration and bank details
  • When you wish to transfer your pension to another provider, we’ll issue you a guaranteed cash equivalent transfer value (CETV) within 10 days of your request, if we have all the necessary information
  • We’ll pay a CETV within 10 working days of receiving all completed transfer discharge forms.

 

If you choose to leave your benefits with us until you retire:

  • We’ll notify you of your options within 10 days of receiving the leaving details you’re your employer
  • We’ll provide you with an annual newsletter letting you know that your annual pension forecast is available online. This will show the current value of preserved benefits (as increased in line with inflation). You can request a paper copy of your forecast if you prefer
  • Where we don’t hold a valid address, we’ll make every effort to contact you to provide you with an annual newsletter but it’s up to you to tell us if you change address.

 

When you retire

  • We’ll pay retirement benefits within seven working days of the Fund receiving your completed retirement declaration form
  • We’ll return original birth/marriage/civil partners certificate by recorded delivery
  • We’ll make available a pension payslip online. You can request for a pension payslip to be sent to you by opting out and in these circumstances, they would be sent twice a year in April and May, or where there’s a change to your pension over the value of £10.00.

 

Retired members 

  • We’ll send you a newsletter and annual report summary at least once a year 
  • When we’re notified of the death of a pensioner, we’ll calculate any dependents’ benefits within five working days of receiving the documents that we need. 

When you contact us:

  • By Telephone
  • By letters and email
  • In person

By Telephone, we'll:

  • Return messages within one working day 

 

  • Deal with your enquiry or complaint on the spot if we can or return your call within one day. 

 

  • Tell you what we can do and when. If we can’t help you immediately, we’ll give you a timescale to get back to you. If we can’t help you, we’ll try to tell you who can help. 

By letters and email, we'll:

  • Answer your letters and emails with an initial response within 2 working days of receiving them.

 

  • If your enquiry is complex, we'll deal with these within the standard for your request and keep you updated if an answer will take longer.

 

  • Make our letters clear and easy to understand. 

In person

Our office building remains closed to visitors.  

We’ll always be helpful to anyone who contacts us on your behalf but may need your authorisation to give information to someone who is helping you.  

 

      

Complaints 

We’re sorry when things go wrong, and we’ll deal with any complaints we receive quickly and resolve the situation when possible. We monitor the levels of complaints we receive on a monthly basis, and we’ll always learn from these and improve the service we provide. We have set out above  the customer care standards we aim to meet.

Our complaint processes covers:

  • the service we have delivered – if you are unhappy with the service we have provided 
  • how pension rules were applied – benefit calculations or payments, previous membership, transfer in/out and AVCs
  • complain about a decision made by your employer - contact your employer who’ll investigate your complaint in line with their internal disputes policy.

 

Complaints about service we have delivered

Initial contact

We’ll make every attempt to resolve a complaint on the spot. If this isn’t possible, a senior member of staff will investigate the matter and respond to you within 10 working days. To make a complaint download a complaints form.

Step 1 - If you’re still unhappy and the response hasn’t resolved the matter, let us know the reasons. A manager will investigate the matter and send a written response within 10 days of your request for review.

Step 2 - If you’re still unhappy you can request your complaint to be reviewed by the Chief Executive Officer. We'll respond to you within 10 working days.

Step 3 - If you’re still not satisfied once you have been through our complaints process, you can make a formal complaint to: The Pensions Ombudsman, 11 Belgrave Road, London SW1V 1RB Tel: 0800 917 4487 or Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, 4 Melville Street, Edinburgh EH3 7NS Tel: 0870 011 5378. 

 

Complaints about how the pension rules were applied

Initial complaint - Internal Dispute Resolution Procedure (IDRP)

In the first instance you should write to the Pensions Administration Manager with full details of the decision you’d like reviewed. We’ll investigate the matter and send a written response within 10 days of your request or review. If the investigation will take longer, we’ll keep you informed of when you can expect a response.  To make a complaint download a complaints form.

Stage 1 - If a complaint can’t be resolved by the Pensions Administration Manager, you can appeal the decision to an independent appointed person within six months of the date of the notification or act of omission you are complaining about. This is stage one of the IDRP procedure. You’ll be given details on how to appeal in our reply to the first step.

Stage 2 - If you’re still dissatisfied following the independent appointed person review: you may apply to the Scottish Ministers to have the decision reconsidered within six months of the date of the notification of the first stage decision. The notification will include a contact address. This is stage two of the IDPR.

Final Appeal - If, after going through the dispute process, you’re still not satisfied you can make a formal complaint to The Pensions Ombudsman, 11 Belgrave Road, London, SW1V 1RB, Tel: 0800 917 4487.  Please note that TPAS (The Pensions Advisory Service) is available to assist members and beneficiaries of the Scheme in connection with any difficulty with the Scheme which remains unresolved. You can contact TPAS at 11 Belgrave Road, London, SW1V 1RB or call them on 0845 6012923.

 

Complaints – how we learn from them

We monitor the levels of complaints we receive on a monthly basis and we’ll always learn from these and improve the service we provide. Lean methodology is used to drive ongoing efficiencies in service delivery, together with Customer Journey Mapping, an approach within Customer Service Excellence (CSE) to tailor our services to meet the needs of both our customers and Lothian Pension Fund. We also undertake regular surveys of customer groups and use mystery shopping exercises to test whether we’re getting things right.

Examples of cases

You said - there are delays in receiving one off lump sum payments. 
We did - we made improvements including bringing one off payments in-house and checking processes to ensure payments were paid to correct bank accounts.

You said - you were unclear about statutory waiting period before refunds are processed. 
We did - we made improvements on our website to clarify we can't process refunds until one month after the last date of membership

You said -  you were unclear about if you could make AVC lump sum payments before retirement. 
We did - we made improvements on our website to clarify AVC rules for lump sum payments from payroll and asked Prudential to amend their AVC application form.

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