Statutory Instrument No.229 of 2016, signed by the Minister for Social Protection on 5 May, represents another step towards the amalgamation of the offices of the Financial Services Ombudsman and the Pensions Ombudsman. The Government made the decision to merge the two agencies in May 2013, after a recommendation from the OECD.
The Statutory Instrument brings into operation Part 3 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2015 with effect from 9 May 2016 which, in turn, amends the Pensions Act. The amendments are to allow for the appointment of a person holding the office of Financial Services Ombudsman to also hold the office of Pensions Ombudsman, subject to the consent of the Minister for Finance and provided that the appointment is made for a period not exceeding the remaining period of appointment of the Financial Services Ombudsman. Amendments are also made to ss.129-130 of the Pensions Act in order to remove any inconsistencies where there are references to the Pensions Ombudsman and the Financial Services Ombudsman as two separate entities.
According to the Pensions Ombudsman Statement of Strategy 2013-2015, this merger between the two agencies will have a positive effect, with such benefits as ‘potential economies of scale resulting from streamlining of communications, websites, information and case management systems and overall more effective use of the technology available’.