The Financial Ombudsman is to increase its case fee by £100 to £750, according to its new budget and financial plans published today.
The increase in the case cost and its planned levy is due in part to a surge in Covid-19 related cases but the FOS has promised no increase in its fee or levy after this year for at least three years.
The FOS levy will rise in the coming year by £12m to £96m.
The FOS says that it received 45% more new complaints than it expected over the past year due to the pandemic. Many of these case are complex and include client vulnerability issues, it said.
The FOS says it will maintain its 25 free case allowance which it says will ensure that nine in ten firms whose customers complain to the FOS will not pay any case fees.
The FOS expects to receive 170,000 complaints and resolve 220,000 complaints in the coming year as it deals with a backlog, according to its 2021/2022 budget outlined today. The FOS has been criticised for a growing backlog of complaints and the amount of time it takes to respond to complainants. It says it plans to deal with these issue in the coming year.
The FOS said that it aims to “resolve more complaints than it receives and invest in capacity to resolve complaints at scale in its general casework – helping to reduce the number of people waiting for an answer.”
In its latest forecasts the FOS expects a 35% rise in investment and pensions complaints to 16,900 in the coming year compared to its budget forecast.
PPI complaints continue to shrink as the deadline for complaints is now well past.
The FOS said that in the year to the end of March, despite the pandemic, it resolved over 95% of cases it had originally planned to in its general casework.
Overall the FOS expects its costs over the coming year to be £260m (£246m excluding one-off costs). It says it will maintain a focus on reducing costs and improving efficiency.
As already announced, FOS CEO and Chief Ombudsman Caroline Wayman will step down on 16 April after 22 years at the service including seven as chief executive and chief ombudsman. Chairman Baroness Zahida Manzoor thanked her for her work and steering the service through the pandemic.