Actuaries have expressed surprise at the decision to direct complaints about the new Pension Wise guidance service to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) rather than a financial services regulator.
From April, the Pensions Wise service will be available to help retirees over age 55 to make the most of their new pension freedoms, by offering free and impartial guidance.
The Treasury has announced that the PHSO, which currently investigates complaints about the NHS and other complaints about central government departments, will oversee customer complaints about pension guidance.
Rona Train, senior investment consultant at Hymans Robertson, said: 'We're surprised that complaints regarding this new service will not be heard by a specialist financial services body. The new flexibilities mean a proliferation of options for retirees [and] with choice comes complexity.
'There needs to be more support given to those retiring from April to allow them to make the best of their newfound freedom. There also needs to be adequate protection for individuals around the quality of the guidance given.'
The Treasury told The Actuary that the Pension Schemes Bill placed a statutory duty on the department to provide the guidance service.
This meant that the Treasury was accountable for ensuring proper administration of the guidance service. It stated that because Pension Wise was a public service, the PHSO would be the investigator of last resort for complaints by individuals. The guidance is distinct from financial advice and will therefore not be regulated by the Financial Ombudsman Service.
A Treasury spokeswoman said: 'The government is developing a robust complaints handling process that is in line with FCA standards. This complaints process will be up and running in good time for April 2015 and will be continually monitored by the FCA.
'If a consumer's complaint cannot be resolved by the guidance service, they will be able to escalate it to an independent adjudicator, which will be appointed in due course. If the complaint can't be resolved by the adjudicator it can be passed on to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman as a last recourse.'
A PHSO spokesman would not comment on how pension complaints would be handled as the Pensions Scheme Bill was still going through parliament.