In this section

Brilliant service for members

We continue to beat our target of 90 per cent customer satisfaction, with 97.7 per cent of PPF and FAS members feeling satisfied with the service they’ve received.

This year saw some large schemes transfer to us, bringing a total of 17,130 new members.


“In these difficult times, it was a very pleasant surprise to find the phone answered so promptly and so cheerfully.”



Although our membership has grown and our teams have largely worked from home, we’ve continued to surpass our Service Level Agreement times, dealing with more than 99 per cent of cases in under five days and answering 84 per cent of calls within 30 seconds.

Our member payroll has also continued uninterrupted, including post-Brexit overseas payments to members living in the EU. To handle the transition smoothly, we contacted those with an EU address to make sure they changed their bank details with us if necessary.


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Beyond the status quo

In addition to maintaining the level of service members expect from us, this year we’ve enhanced our online service in several ways, improving member experience across all our channels. 

We now email members who are turning 50 and 55 to encourage them to use our online Benefit Modeller. This helps them understand their pension and lump sum options so they can plan for retirement. 

Once ready to retire, they can do so easily online, and we write to members encouraging them to do this as they approach their scheme’s normal pension age, encouraging them to use this method, no longer including paper forms as we’ve done in the past. 

As members increasingly want to do more via digital channels, we’re continually improving the experience. 

Supporting our vulnerable members

One of our key priorities is to continue to make our service as straightforward to use as possible for members with disabilities or other vulnerabilities

Over the past year, we’ve been asking members with vulnerabilities if we can make a note of their circumstances on our system so they don’t have to repeat themselves when they call. This has been welcomed by members and has helped us offer a better, more individual service to each person. 

We’ve also started using Relay UK to support people with hearing impairments and we signpost sources of help for issues such as mental health and money worries.


“Absolutely brilliant service. The person I spoke to was absolutely brilliant. He is very, very knowledgeable. Nothing was too much trouble, he went above and beyond. Every time I’ve rung your service every single person has been brilliant but he was lovely. He put my mind at rest. Honestly, your staff are brilliant – a round of applause (claps)... these terrible times... this pandemic and everyone’s so nice.”


More ways we’ve improved this year

Web accessibility 

Our member website now has a Web Content Accessibility Guidelines rating of AA which means it’s accessible for people with disabilities, such as impaired vision or motor difficulties. It can be used with a screen reader and navigated with a keyboard. 

We have a plan of further improvements to make the site even more accessible over the coming year. 

Letters of authority 

If one of our members would like someone else to deal with us on their behalf, they can now download a ‘letter of authority’ form from our site. 

This is useful in a number of different circumstances, including for members with dementia or those with hearing difficulties who prefer not to speak on the phone. It can also be helpful if a member prefers a third party to manage their finances for them.

Putting people ahead of targets

One of the planned activities we didn’t achieve in 2020/21 is reducing our call handling time. This is because we felt it would be wrong to prioritise this target over our members’ needs or employees’ wellbeing.
Periods of lockdown have meant that our people working from home often had to take longer between calls due to conflicting priorities, such as homeschooling.
Reducing call times would also have got in the way of our ability to treat each person as an individual.
Our team has witnessed the devastating loss of life caused by the pandemic, with an unprecedented rate of bereavement calls. Naturally, calls with bereaved families need a little longer than ordinary calls and this isn’t something we would want to change.
As we know how difficult it is to have to notify multiple organisations when a person has passed away, we’re also working on improving the process further.


Grace and Donna


Dealing with bereavement

Dealing with bereavement

“The support we've received from our team leaders has been amazing. Hopefully, we are past the worst of the bereavement calls now. Everyone in the team has handled it brilliantly.
“I got emotional speaking to a 19-year-old beneficiary about their loss. I spoke to my team leader afterwards which really helped me, and I was encouraged to take a break. You really feel for the caller in these situations.
“Every bereavement call is different. Putting yourself in their shoes can be difficult when you're dealing with back-to-back calls."

Senior Contact Centre Advisor

The increase of bereavement calls has been very difficult to deal with for many people. Even before COVID-19, every call took me back to how I felt when I went through a bereavement. I’ve sometimes needed to compose myself before taking another call. I know how laborious those calls are and how hard it is to even say the person’s name or their date of birth.

When I take a bereavement call I want to make sure that the person I’m talking to is left with a positive feeling in a dark time, and that they have one less thing to worry about. I want them to have confidence in the PPF; after all, this is probably the first time they’ve spoken to us.

I want to leave them knowing that we’re not just another company they have to deal with, but that we’re people who care about our members and the people they leave behind.

Ellias, Pensions Administrator

In this section

Brilliant service for schemes

This has been a challenging year for the schemes we protect. To recognise this, we offered levy payers an extra two months to pay without incurring interest if their business or scheme was struggling as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.            

It was reassuring to see that uptake on this was low – around one per cent of schemes requested longer to pay, which we agreed to in all cases. We were also able to collect 95 per cent of the outstanding 2020/21 levy by the end of November, a month ahead of our goal.            

We surpassed our target for excellent service, with 92 per cent of levy payers surveyed feeling satisfied with the service they’ve received, against a target of 80 per cent.


95% levy collected by end November
92% average levy payer satisfaction

Innovating for the future

We know our levy payers don’t have a choice in using our service, which reinforces our ambition to continually improve what we do.
This year our focus has been on improving our digital services by listening carefully to what levy payers want from us and understanding where we can do better. 
We accelerated our introduction of electronic invoicing this year. We’ll be continuing to refine the process for future years in response to the feedback we’ve had about its effectiveness so far.
We also asked for levy payers’ help with our work exploring whether it’s possible to develop a levy estimate tool. Their input has contributed to our feasibility study. Final decisions on this piece of work will be taken in 2021/22, with the outcome feeding into our next Strategic Plan.

Engaging with levy payers

We've maintained our regular cycle of two structured SME Forums, with formal meetings in September and February, but we’ve also been running informal meetings and focus groups, including with our Industry Steering Group members.                                

We received valuable feedback that has helped shape our levy rules, small scheme adjustment and the risk-based levy cap proposals.
Following this, we reduced the cap on an individual scheme’s levy from 0.5 per cent to 0.25 per cent of its liabilities.
We’ve also seen a welcome increase in engagement with our levy consultations since we introduced online forms, including a ‘quick response’ option.
In addition, we’ve introduced a revamped email newsletter that goes out to all schemes, in response to feedback from levy payers.

Following a long career in the industry, I’m currently an advisor to a group of SMEs.

The group has reluctantly accepted that the levy is here to stay and has been consulting with the PPF’s SME Forum on the interests of small businesses.

Personally, I’m delighted with the way they have responded to our input, particularly with the small scheme adjustment and levy cap.

They’re good people to deal with, and in the way that they respond to feedback, I’ve found them a breath of fresh air.

Paul Duffy, Independent pensions trustee and company advisor

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The small scheme adjustment has been a most welcome relief and has turned the levy into a much more manageable cost. I’m pleased to hear they think it will continue.

“There’s a disconcerting disconnect between people who have to be trustees of smaller DB heritage pension schemes and the complexity of the system. The learning curve is vertical.

“The PPF has recognised the glaring disadvantages that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have suffered since the second three-year levy period. We all thought we were alone in the wilderness until we joined the SME Consultation Group and then the PPF’s SME Forum.

“I do think the PPF have listened and taken into account what SME stakeholders have been saying. And where they can move, they’ve moved.”

Charles Malcolm-Brown

Managing Director, Dixon International Group

Welcoming Dun & Bradstreet

Welcoming Dun & Bradstreet

After a productive partnership, our contract with Experian ended this year. We’re grateful for the work its team did to help us develop our bespoke insolvency risk model over the last six years.

Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) will build on the old methodology and help us develop our services, with levy payers at the heart of any improvements.
We began insolvency risk scoring with D&B under new methodology in April 2020. Monthly scores will be used in the 2021/22 levy calculations.
Throughout the past year our levy payers have been using the D&B portal to check their insolvency risk scores and submit queries online.

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The rapid collapse of Carillion was very high profile. It was featured in national media and on television and was debated in Parliament.

Chris Martin, a trustee of the Carillion Staff Pension Scheme, talks about what it was like to enter our assessment process following the firm’s well-publicised insolvency:

“Several of the Carillion pension schemes were significantly underfunded and the public debate about the failure of the company caused huge concern and upset to its current employees, but also to its former employees who were pension scheme members.

“Thankfully the PPF was able to step in to provide a safety net.

“This meant our members were able to move from a place of difficult, stressful uncertainty to having confidence in the security of their pension, in a very short period of time.“

Chris Martin

ITS Limited, Carillion Staff Pension Scheme Trustee

The way that the PPF has dealt with the coronavirus issue is incredible and I can’t believe how calm and reassuring they have been each time I have called.


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