The Independent Assessor’s annual report on FOS notes that, during the financial year 2021/22, FOS resolved nearly 220,000 cases. Only 1.9% of those customers complained about the service to FOS and only 0.3% escalated their complaints to the assessor. That equated to 568 cases, or 14% of all service complaints.
The Assessor comments that, of the complaints adjudged to be “unsatisfactory” 70% were about communication and timeliness – and FOS is well aware of its backlog and is working hard to clear it. That said, there has been an increase to the percentage of complaints about the adequacy of investigation such that this is now the top issue.
Among the Assessor’s conclusions and recommendations are:
- the need to keep complainants up to date, communicating by the method they choose;
- the need to address failure to reallocate cases when a case manager is absent;
- the need to ensure case handlers correctly review a file and do not ask for information that they already have;
- that if the case may not be within jurisdictions, customers should be given an early indication that this may be the outcome, rather than waiting a long time only to be told FOS cannot help;
- case handlers must ensure they cover each thing complained about.
Of the cases rejected by the assessor, the main reason for rejection was because the case was still ongoing, but 12% were because the customer had not yet complained to FOS, which it must do before the Assessor can get involved.
In response FOS noted the actions it has already taken, and said that enhanced upfront communication is a key part of its future strategy and that it continues to work hard on reducing timescales. It has also conducted a root cause analysis to establish the reason for the increase in complaints on adequacy of service.