I propose to take Questions Nos. 176 and 237 together.
Under section 15(4) of the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Act 2017 the Ombudsman may appoint staff to his office and determine their duties with the approval of the Minister for Finance and the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.
The Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO) commissioned a Workforce Plan 2019-2023 and submitted the Plan to my Department. This plan includes an analysis of the level of resources currently available to the FSPO against both current and predicted future demand for his services.
My officials in the Department of Finance have just concluded their consideration of the best way to ensure that the Ombudsman has the appropriate resources to deal with the workload of his Office following consultations with officials in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Office of the Ombudsman. In light of this, I have approved a substantial increase in staff in the FSPO which I expect to assist the FSPO in fulfilling its remit to independently resolve complaints against financial services and pensions providers.