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Financial watchdog raises its game

23 July 2004
The Financial Ombudsman Service has defended itself following claims that thousands of cases are taking over a year to complete.

Spokesperson Mike Naylor stood up for the organisation's record in resolving disputes, arguing that delays were often inevitable.

Mr Naylor explained that targets were being reached, but the ombudsman was still working its way through a huge number of complaints every year.

"It would be pretty unusual if we had been working on a case for more than a year," he told the BBC. "So unusual, if fact that we have to report all complaints we have been working on for more than a year to our own board who get a schedule of all these cases."

"It is certainly not in our interest for the ombudsman service to take that long on a case if we can do anything to prevent that kind of time delay."

Mr Naylor explained that the ombudsman publishes all its figures relating to what is referred to as "timeliness" - how long it takes to handle a complaint.

Currently, around 45 per cent of complaints to the ombudsman are resolved in three months and in total about 80 per cent are resolved within six months of being submitted.