Financial Ombudsman Service  

Fos to hike case fees

Fos to hike case fees

The financial ombudsman plans to increase its case fee to £650, despite previously suggesting the cost would remain closer to £550 amid its funding reshuffle. 

In its latest plan and budget consultation published this week (December 16) the Financial Ombudsman Service also confirmed its levy for the 2020/21 financial year would be £106m. 

Consulting on changes to its funding structure earlier this year the ombudsman said despite the reshuffle its case fee would remain "around its current level, £550", but in its latest budget it confirmed this would now sit at £650 for 2020/21. 

The ombudsman said: "For the past seven years, despite inflationary pressures, we’ve frozen the individual case fee at £550. Given the income we expect to need in 2020/21, we plan to set the case fee at £650."

The higher case fee would apply to all cases closed after April 1, 2020, regardless of when the case was referred to the ombudsman. 

In July the ombudsman announced proposals to "significantly" increase the proportion of income it gets from its industry levy - which then sat at an 85:15 split between case fees and levy - and instead pushed for a 50:50 split. 

But in light of industry feedback to its proposals the service has settled for a funding structure of 60 per cent case fees and 40 per cent levy in the 2020/21 financial year, with ambitions to push for the 50:50 split in the future. 

The Fos expects fewer complaints relating to investments and pensions in the current financial year, but did confirm it had seen a rise in complaints about self-invested personal pensions. 

In its initial budget for the current financial year the ombudsman had predicted receiving 15,500 investment and pension complaints, but its latest forecast put this figure at closer to 13,000 - a drop of 16 per cent.

The service is currently upholding about six in ten complaints involving Sipps, a rate it said was "far higher" than the average across its other casework. 

The ombudsman said: "Reflecting the broad trend toward complexity that we’re seeing across our casework, many of these [Sipp] complaints are hard-fought, subject to ongoing legal action, and in some cases involving firms that have gone into liquidation – factors which create challenges around reaching a quick resolution."

rachel.mortimer@ft.com

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