Lord Hunt of Wirral MBE today launched his review of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) with the publication of a detailed “call for evidence” report [PDF version opens in new window].

The document describes how the FOS currently seeks to make itself accessible to all possible complainants and small businesses. It also sets out the information about individual cases and complaint trends which is currently in the public domain and asks a range of detailed questions about possible options for the future.

Lord Hunt said

“The Financial Ombudsman Service is an important resource for UK PLC. It seeks to help over 500,000 people directly each year. By influencing business practice, it can potentially help many more.

“To achieve this, it needs to be readily accessible to all consumers, particularly more vulnerable ones, and to listen and communicate effectively with an ever growing number of businesses. My review will assess how well it is doing this and point to any areas of improvement.

“So I want the Review to stimulate wide ranging debate amongst industry and consumer groups about the effectiveness of what the FOS does at present, where it should build on current progress and where practice might change. I am particularly interested in potential lessons from other sectors and organisations.

“The document that I am publishing today is the start of that debate. The questions I am asking about priorities for communication, the needs of specific groups and the publication of individual decisions and more general data on the outcome of complaints are designed to focus attention on some key areas, rather than to be an exclusive list. I’m also allowing a full three months for input to ensure that everybody has the maximum opportunity to participate.

“My aim is to produce concrete recommendations in the first quarter of next year. These may range from short-term suggestions, capable of early implementation by the FOS, to more strategic proposals, which will help to determine its direction in the medium-term.  

“I greatly welcome the early expressions of support and interest in the Review from many stakeholders. In particular, I am grateful to the offer from the All Party Group on Financial Services to host a series of meetings to inform its own input to my work.  I look forward to working with all interested groups in framing my recommendations.”