Backlog of consumer complaints being driven down, says financial ombudsman

24 May 2022, 00:04

A man using a laptop
Consumer complaints. Picture: PA

Initiatives were put in place to address a big backlog of complaints received during Covid-19, the Financial Ombudsman Service said.

The Financial Ombudsman Service says it has cut a backlog of consumer complaints about firms to around a third of the level at the start of last year.

It now has just over 37,000 unallocated cases, down from around 90,000 previously.

Complaints to the service piled up during the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of the efforts to drive down the backlog, a temporary initiative was launched in November 2021 to encourage firms to proactively settle complaints more quickly.

For a limited period, complaints that were proactively settled by businesses before the ombudsman service issued its opinion did not count towards the firm’s “uphold rate” – the proportion of claims against the business that were successful.

The temporary initiative resulted in more than 6,800 cases being settled and £22 million in redress for customers, the service said.

This included more than £10 million of redress in “authorised” scam complaints where people were tricked into handing money over, with more than 2,000 victims being refunded the money they had lost.

The average offer to customers made through the initiative was £3,200 per case.

In February this year, the Treasury Committee heard some cases were up to four years old.

The committee heard the ombudsman service had received many coronavirus pandemic-related complaints such as those concerning wedding insurance, travel insurance and health insurance.

High-cost credit cases, unaffordable lending and guarantor loans were also among consumers’ gripes, according to the hearing in February.

Nausicaa Delfas, chief executive and chief ombudsman at the Financial Ombudsman Service, said: “We are delighted that many financial businesses have responded to our initiative and have helped customers get their complaints resolved more quickly.

“This was just one of a range of initiatives we put in place to address the large backlog of complaints received during Covid-19. The backlog is now a third of what it was at the beginning of last year.

“We are now moving forward with our action plan to change and improve the financial ombudsman for the future.”

By Press Association