Fos interim chief defends redundancies despite claims backlog

Fos interim chief defends redundancies despite claims backlog
Nausicaa Delfas, interim chief executive and chief ombudsman at the Fos

The Financial Ombudsman Service's interim chief has defended the body's decision to make redundancies earlier this year despite a backlog of complaints, stating its intention was always to resize after it had completed the bulk of payment protection insurance complaints.

Speaking to FTAdviser yesterday (December 2), Nausicaa Delfas said the number of PPI complaints has been going down and therefore the demand for the ombudsman service was shifting. 

She said: “[The redundancies] were done before my arrival, but the reason for them was resizing with PPI. 

"PPI has caused the ombudsman service to significantly increase resources, but it had always had the intention to resize.” 

Earlier this year, Fos made 200 redundancies across its “mass claims department” following a consultation period. 

This news came despite the ombudsman still facing a backlog of about 50,000 complaints. 

Delfas said: “Obviously, PPI was a large-scale mass claim type issue, whereas [now we are] getting more cases which are more diverse, and some of these are around pension transfers. 

“Those are obviously more complex to resolve and take longer to do so but we have a number of those as well.”

The Fos now has a specialist team that focuses on those complaints so that they can get through them as quickly as possible.

Delfas said: "The types of cases with PPI was a specific approach to dealing with those complaints. We now have a more diverse selection of complaints and we need to make sure we've got the right skills in place to do those complaints.”

Yesterday the Fos also launched an action plan setting out how it will aim to improve its delivery for customers and provide help to resolve cases more quickly.

The plan will see Fos move to a simpler, more accountable casework operating model to improve the way it handles complaints from entry point to resolution. 

In particular, it will focus on consolidating existing teams into a clearer structure based on industry-specific areas and allowing casework leaders to set targets, manage budgets and set their teams' priorities.

It will also improve triaging processes and develop a digital portal to make it easier for complainants to interact with the Fos.

“Changes to the operating model that we're going to move to will make them a simpler and clearer aligned to industry specific areas and so we will be changing our focus to have a greater focus on specialisms," said Delfas. 

“What we're doing already with our academy and our training is to focus in on areas where we think it's the greatest need so that people can move much more quickly to those specific areas and address the complaints we have in those areas."

She added: “A lot of this is work that we're already doing. We're already changing. We're already improving in that area. And the action plan reinforced the direction of travel.”

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