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The 2012 Annual Report of the Pensions Ombudsman, launched today, shows the Office received 968 more new cases in 2012 (2,189) than 2011 (1,221 ) ranging from Approved Retirement Funds and Approved Minimum Retirement Funds to pension levy, pension unlocking and taxation issues.

The Office has also published a new booklet on Dispute Resolutions which sets out a number of options to resolve disputes other than using the courts. It includes information on direct negotiation, complaints, procedures, mediation, conciliation and arbitration.

Launching both today, Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD,commended the work of the Pensions Ombudsman and his staff and acknowledged the Office’s ability to resolve complaints at an early stage “without putting people through unnecessary expense.”

With regard to the booklet, the Minister stated: “At a time when legal costs can still be prohibitively expensive, alternative dispute resolution offers a timely, low-cost solution. An added advantage of this booklet is that it has been awarded the Plain English Mark, which means it is straightforward and easy to understand.”

The Minister mentioned merger between the Pensions Ombudsman and the Pensions Board which was recently approved by Government. She also thanked Paul Kenny, who was due to retire this summer but is remaining in his post to steer his Office through the merger process.  Speaking of the recently published OECD review of the Irish pensions system she said that the findings and policy recommendations emerging from it were not prescriptive but instead “provide a wide choice of measures for consideration which involve a number of Government Departments and the Government will consider these measures in due course”.