Tuesday, 19 July 2016

A happy outcome

A few determined readers may have ploughed through my long post about my Civil Service Pension woes (The simplest thing, but..., posted on 13 June). I now have a result, and it is positive. In fact it proves that you can get a great response from a government agency if the approach is in language and a format they can process, the desired outcome is plainly stated, and the intention to take the matter further is credible. This was my eventual letter (or at least the essential guts of it), couched in the form of a 'first-stage complaint' and quoting a paragraph of their own complaint guidance:

PO Box 2017
L69 2BU

Pension Reference Number: XXXXXXXX
My National Insurance Number: ZZXXXXXXY

Dear MyCSP

1. Not getting vital items from you (annual P60 and payslips)
2. Not getting promised letters from you (a related issue?)

This is a ‘first stage’ letter of complaint under paragraph 9.1.8 IDR. 

1. Not getting vital items from you (annual P60 and payslips)
My Civil Service Pension commenced on 1 June 2005, and was therefore originally administered by Capita Hartshead. They supplied me with an annual form P60 (pension and tax details) and payslip, with accompanying notes, and from time to time other payslips as necessary. This happened every year, apparently automatically, and without problems. We also corresponded from time to time without difficulty.

In September 2014 I received a Cabinet Office letter informing me that MyCSP would henceforth administer my pension in succession to Capita. From that date you have sent no automatic annual communications to me at all. For two years running I have had to write specially each year to get copies of my P60 and a payslip showing the amounts of my gross monthly pension, the tax code being applied, the tax deducted, and details of any other deductions. This is clearly wrong.

I think that there must be some background inhibition operating on my pension record, so that regardless of what it may say on the screen shown to your front-line staff, and regardless of what they may try to do using the information on that screen, these important documents (and others) do not get sent out to me.

As I say, I have had to write and phone specially each year so far, to get what should have come without asking. I do at the present time have copies of my 2014/15 and 2015/16 forms P60, and copies of two recent payslips - so for now I need no more. But as matters stand, it seems clear that I will have to make a special request in every future year. That will annoy me greatly, and it will waste your resources when you get an exasperated letter from me and have to deal with it. There is a problem here that needs to be fixed.

What might be the fix? Perhaps something on my record needs correction or modification. It will have to be examined and checked at more than a basic level.

2. Not getting promised letters from you (a related issue?)
I have been writing since 24 February this year about my Benenden Healthcare subscription, which I paid to Benenden for many years by deduction from my salary and then later from my Civil Service Pension, but brought to an end early this year. I had contacted Benenden to cancel it. But they told me I would also need to write to you, to stop future monthly subscriptions being taken from my pension and passed to them. I did this, and you stopped the deduction from my March pension payment. But then you reinstated it in error for April and May! More letters and phone calls got you to delete it again for June - permanently I hope. 

In the course of all this, I was promised a letter of explanation (and hopefully, of apology). I wanted to understand what had gone wrong, and confirmation that the error was yours. I wanted to show the letter to Benenden, to assist me in claiming from them the money MyCSP wrongly sent to them. 

When phoning on 9 June, I was told that the letter had been sent out on 8 June 2016. It never came. I phoned again on 15 June, and the person I spoke with said she would send me a copy. That never came either. I then went on holiday, returning yesterday on 7 July. Still no letter. Even if sent by second-class post, letters do not take so long to arrive! (Indeed, I was getting second-class mail from other sources meanwhile, clearly taking no longer than four days to arrive) 

I think that something stopped the letter being printed and leaving MyCSP. And that whatever inhibition prevents me getting annual P60s and payslips is also preventing the straightforward issue of letters to me. The two aspects of my complaint may be closely connected, and may have a common solution.

What I am looking for
First, an acknowledgement of this complaint letter, and a named person to keep in touch with. My own contact details are set out at the end of this letter.

Second, I wish to know what specific action you now propose to get my records set up correctly. 

Third, a promise that I will receive my 2016/17 P60, payslip, and accompanying notes, without having to chase you for them. And the same for every subsequent year.  
Yours faithfully

Miss Lucy Melford

This elicited a holding letter on 13 July, and a full reply on 18 July, which has reached me on the following day (today). They found on looking at my record that my full postal address wasn't holding on their system, so that some items were going out with an address that the Post Office found useless for delivery purposes. That has now been fixed. As regards the error made over the Benenden subscriptions, they have decided to refund three months' subscriptions that should not have been deducted from my pension, totalling £25.87.

I immediately phoned the lady who had written, to tell her that I had in fact managed to get Benenden to refund two months. But I will nevertheless still get that £25.87. She apologised sincerely for all the time and effort I'd spent since the start of the year, trying to secure the right outcome. I said I'd be very glad of the £25.87, and would regard it as fair compensation for my personal trouble and the postal costs.

So there you are. Letters succeed. I now have this great result. And the prospect of a smooth future relationship with MyCSP. (I had been quite worried about their making - or their computer system making - some devastating mistake, such as entirely failing to pay me my monthly pension, or wiping my pension record)


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