Financial Ombudsman Service  

Fos offers staff ‘voluntary’ overtime to tackle complaints backlog

Fos offers staff ‘voluntary’ overtime to tackle complaints backlog

The Financial Ombudsman Service is offering staff “voluntary overtime” to tackle its cases backlog, just a few months after it made 200 redundancies in its mass claims teams.

In its annual report and accounts 2020/21 published yesterday (October 28), the Fos said it began the year with 28,000 cases waiting to be investigated and the additional demand over the pandemic meant it ended the year with more customers waiting for an “unacceptably long time”. 

As a result, it has outlined changes for the year ahead including offering incentive schemes and voluntary overtime to staff, providing better signposting to consumers on its remit, training its customer help team to help consumers with enquiries on the phone, and progressing initiatives to encourage larger businesses to secure settlements earlier on.

It will also better tailor its academy training to reflect new recruits’ differing levels of experience and will offer beginning training in specialist areas right from the start. 

This year the service has made 200 redundancies in its mass claims team following the wind down of its dedicated PPI operation. 

In March, it reported a complaints backlog of 158,000 complaints and shortly after that chief executive Caroline Wayman stepped down after seven years in the role, alongside a number of other executives. 

Nausicaa Delfas, interim chief executive and chief ombudsman, said: “While PPI complaints tailed off more quickly than
anticipated, the impact of the pandemic on incoming complaints about other financial products and services was significant.

"Prior to the onset of Covid‑19, the Financial Ombudsman Service had a backlog. It began 2020/21 with too many cases waiting to be investigated – approximately 28,000 across all product areas – and its plans and budget centred on achieving a significant reduction in waiting times by the end of the year. 

"However, the additional in year demand meant we ended the year with more customers waiting for an unacceptably long time.

"Despite the enormous efforts that colleagues put in, the previous year’s backlog, combined with the sheer weight of new claims, made it an extremely difficult task. A step change is now required."

The Fos is investing £10m in maintaining capacity to resolve complaints in high volumes – to support its aim of resolving 45,000 more complaints than it did in 2020/21 and 40,000 more than it receives in non‑PPI areas.

Fos chairman Baroness Zahida Manzoor said the Fos was “entering a new phase” now.

“Reducing queues and bringing down waiting times throughout the customer journey was at the forefront of our commitments even before the pandemic,” she said. 

“Having already started 2020/21 with unacceptably long waiting times, Covid‑19 not only meant that we could not make the headway we had planned, but increased the number of people seeking our help. I am determined that we step up our efforts to address this.”

The budget

Meanwhile the Fos said it will see year‑on‑year “business as usual” costs staying flat, with a cost base of £246m, excluding one‑off restructuring costs.