Regulation 

Ombudsman to halve time taken to handle complaints

Ombudsman to halve time taken to handle complaints

The Financial Ombudsman Service wants to resolve at least half of all complaints in half the time it currently does.

In the ombudsman's draft plan and budget for 2018 to 2019, which is out for consultation, the service stated it currently aims to give an answer to all but the most complex complaints within 90 days.

However, the ombudsman recognised that 90 days – three months – is still a long time for someone to wait for an answer.

So in the plans for the year ahead, the ombudsman set the higher bar of resolving half of all complaints in just half that time.

But the ombudsman has not explained how it intends to achieve this target.

In 2018 to 2019 the ombudsman predicts that it will receive 410,000 complaints, an increase on this year when it expects to receive 337,000.

Of these complaints, 250,000 will be related to payment protection insurance, up from 180,000 this year as the looming deadline for considering these complaints encourages people to come forward.

Caroline Wayman, chief ombudsman, said: "The scale of payment protection insurance (PPI) mis-selling meant we needed to treble in size – and we are now in a position where, looking ahead, we can anticipate reducing the scale of our operations.

"But PPI isn’t the only story – far from it. From levels of consumer debt to new technologies, there are many other developments we need to keep in mind as we make our plans.

"To make sure we’re ready for the future – and ensure we stay not just accessible, but sustainable – over the last year, we have continued to develop our service.

"This has meant that, at the same time as managing PPI to its conclusion, we've also needed to transform the way we resolve complaints.

"Our challenge for 2018 to 2019 will be to build on our progress – at a time when, quite rightly, expectations of services like ours continue to grow."

Of the complaints the Fos expects to receive in 2018 to 2019, it predicts that 14,000 will relate to investments and pensions - an unchanged number on this year and slightly less than in 2016 to 2017.

Meanwhile 76,000 complaints will relate to banking and credit and 40,000 will relate to insurance other than PPI.

The spike in the number of complaints about packaged bank accounts, which reached more than 20,000 in 2016 to 2017, has now died down and the service is predicting only 10,000 next year.

The ombudsman said this was because it had told claims management companies that it wouldn’t expect them to refer complaints to it where the people involved clearly had not lost out.

damian.fantato@ft.com

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