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Ombudsman pledges to boost staff morale

Ombudsman pledges to boost staff morale

The chief ombudsman has defended the Financial Ombudsman Service from the poor feedback given by its staff in a recent survey.

Speaking before the Treasury select committee yesterday (15 January) evening, Caroline Wayman acknowledged that staff at the Fos had been unhappy in recent months, but said this was because of the change taking place at the organisation.

Just 19 per cent of staff polled believed senior management at the Fos provided a clear sense of direction and only 21 per cent thought their top bosses were open to feedback, a staff survey conducted last year showed.

Ms Wayman said: "We are in the middle of quite a significant change programme at the moment and certainly we recognise that we have got work to do in terms of moving forward with our staff engagement. Last year in particular was really challenging.

"We want our staff to feel valued and really feel proud of the ombudsman service. Our survey last year was one which showed we had some really challenges, but I think we knew that.

"We are very much in the heat of tackling those issues now.

"We have been changing the heart of what we do and that can be very difficult at the same time as managing massive uncertainty around payment protection insurance and the timescales for that."

Ms Wayman said the announcement of a time limit of August 2019 for complaints to the Fos about PPI provided the organisation with more certainty.

She also provided more detail on the changes the Fos is introducing, saying the new model will be "much more responsive".

She said: "We are absolutely not removing specialisms but what we are needing to do is to be flexible for the sort of problems that consumers bring to us in a given week and be able to answer those problems across a whole different range of things people bring to us.

"What we are trying not to do is to have queues at the front end, which means we need to be able to be flexible enough to be able to respond to whatever people bring to us in that week."

Ms Wayman disputed that this would mean more use of standardised formulas for handling complaints and said it would actually need a greater amount of flexibility.

She said: "Some of our staff have moved from doing work that they were perhaps used to doing in the more traditional areas of our work into PPI claims and that is because we do have a lot of PPI customers who require our help.

"Do we have a consistent approach to dealing with PPI cases? Absolutely we do and so we should as well because it is very important that people get consistent answers but people are adapting.

"Some of our cases inevitably are always going to be ones that take longer, that require more detailed thinking, and we have established a team whose role is all about the more complex areas of our case work.