FOS publishes Independent Assessor’s annual report for 2022/23

The Independent Assessor’s report confirms that during the financial year 2022/23, FOS resolved 209,491 cases, with 1.8% of those customers lodging complaints about the service.

Complaints reduced by 1.9% since last year, but the percentage of complaints being referred to the Assessor’s office remained at 0.3% – this was 649, or 17% of all complaints about FOS, an increase of 3% on 2021/22. The report highlighted, as it has previously, the significant backlogs that continue to impact FOS complaints handling. Of the 65% of cases that were judged by the Assessor be ‘unsatisfactory’, 82% were found to have issues with communication or timeliness.


Areas for improvement were accuracy, explanation of the process, getting in touch when appropriate, communicating in the agreed method, and tone and attitude. The Assessor called for the communication standards to be embedded across case work.


The Assessor found there to be poor case management, failure to request required information at the earliest time, multiple case handlers being allocated, and absent case handlers without reallocation. The Assessor highlighted the importance of providing early answers on jurisdiction and managing customers’ expectations.

Adherence to FOS process

Complaints with this issue had been increasing in previous years. The report called for FOS to ensure new joiners are fully appraised of the correct process, and that existing staff are provided refresher training. It also emphasised the importance of staff having sufficient authority to deviate from rigid process when it is clearly appropriate for the circumstances of a particular customer and their case.

Adequacy of investigation

The Assessor was pleased that complaints in this area dropped in 2022/23 from 7% to 4%, given one of the key functions of FOS is to provide complete and fair investigation. However, the Assessor made recommendations in 70% of cases where there was a failing in this category, indicating that customers who referred their complaints had good reason to. Particular issues included evidence missing from the file, complaints passing between multiple handlers resulting in information being missed, and inconsistency in approach. The Assessor said that many of these could be addressed through more effective communication.

In its response, FOS noted that it has completed several root-cause analyses to investigate thematic issues, and has arranged that its new directors be sighted on all Assessor reviews for their directorate areas. It plans to provide improved digital channels, and enhance its operating model by grouping casework teams based on industry sectors. It has reduced its service level agreement for managers to respond to complaints from 15 to 10 working days and also introduced new service standards. To increase the volume of staff able to handle more complex and sensitive cases, FOS is also in the process of recruiting additional Senior Investigators.

Laura Wiles