FOS proposes temporary measures to reduce customer waiting times

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has released a consultation paper setting out proposed temporary changes to the way it reports business-specific complaints and in particular the ‘uphold rate’.

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in increased demand for the FOS which has led to significant operational challenges both for the FOS and businesses. FOS plans for 2020/21 anticipated that 145,000 new non-PPI complaints would be received but the figure at the end of the financial year was over 237,000. The FOS therefore began this financial year with around 90,000 outstanding cases waiting to be investigated. Some businesses have struggled to respond within eight weeks, leading to further complaints, and many customers waiting too long for their complaints to be resolved.

The FOS is on track to exceed the complaint resolution target set out in plans for this financial year, yet it will still end 2021/22 with a significant queue. The FOS is therefore actively exploring and implementing a range of initiatives to enable a faster service and a reduction in customer waiting times. Stakeholders’ views are being sought on whether intervention to temporarily amend the FOS’ approach to publishing firm-specific outcome data could encourage financial businesses to settle complaints proactively and pragmatically and speed up the process.

The FOS is exploring a range of incentives for financial businesses to settle complaints at an early stage and initiatives to help move faster and reduce customer waiting times. These include:

  • Engaging with businesses differently to move complaints along more quickly
  • Initiatives to free up investigators’ time, such as routing calls through other teams
  • Focused triage in some areas of our casework, for example in fraud and scams
  • a temporary proposed change to how firm-specific complaints data is published. It is proposed that – for a limited period – complaints with the service that are proactively settled by businesses before the FOS has issued its opinion will not count towards the business’s uphold rate.
  • The FOS intends to put these proposed temporary measures in place for any complaint resolved in this way before the end of the financial year, 31st March 2022, after which it will revert to recording outcomes as it does currently.

The consultation closes at 5.00pm on Monday 18th October 2021. Any responses or questions about the consultation should be emailed to: consultations@financial-ombudsman.org.uk Next steps and implementation will be published by 1st November 2021.

 

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