The Financial Ombudsman Service (Fos) has experienced year-long delays when resolving certain cases after a claims management company (CMC) challenged its approach.
According to the Fos’ annual report and accounts for the year ended March 31, 2019, published today (July 15), the challenge from the CMC related to payment protection insurance (PPI) complaints and meant that these cases weren’t able to be resolved for more than 12 months.
The Fos also revealed that it had experienced similar challenges with complaints about short‑term lending and self-invested personal pensions (Sipps).
The report stated: "As last year, an ongoing challenge from a claims management company over our approach to resolving PPI complaints meant we weren’t able to resolve certain complaints where the people involved had been waiting more than 12 months for our answer."
The annual report also revealed that the ombudsman has delayed the launch of its new case‑handling system to "ensure that all issues are resolved before its launch".
The launch of the portal technology, which is linked to the case-handling system, has also been pushed back to later in 2019/20.
The Fos told FTAdviser there is no specific launch date at the moment as the technology is still in development.
However, the ombudsman is aiming to run a pilot of the new portal at the end of the month, where it will offer a small number of customers the option to keep in touch with their case through the new portal.
The Fos said this will allow it to test the new system, although customers taking part in the pilot will not experience any differences in how their cases are handled.
The new portal will allow people to log in and share information with the Fos and to check the progress of its investigation without needing to contact the ombudsman directly.
The annual report also included the Fos’ commitments for next year, which were previously published as part of its strategic plan and budget in March 2019.
In 2019/20, the ombudsman expects to receive a total of 460,000 new complaints, of which 250,000 will be about PPI.
It also plans to resolve 510,000 complaints, which include 170,000 relating to general casework (an increase of 40 per cent compared with 2018/19) and 270,000 relating to PPI (increase of 24 per cent).
Richard Lloyd, who completed a review of the Fos in July last year, previously said that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) should be doing more to prevent mass numbers of complaints from ending up at the Fos.
He told the Treasury select committee that the ombudsman had been "completely distorted" by the huge number of PPI complaints it has had to handle in recent years and the FCA should have forced firms to solve their clients' problems.
His 53-page review of the Fos was launched after allegations made in the Channel 4 programme Dispatches that some decisions made by ombudsmen may have not been fair to consumers.