Firstly, I must point out that the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO) is independent in the performance of his statutory functions. I have no role in the day to day workings of the office or in the decisions which he takes.
However the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman's Office has informed me that it aims to acknowledge all written communications within 10 working days, which includes the acknowledgement of new complaints. However, the number of complaints received in 2018 caused the Office to be unable to process complaints as quickly as it would have wished and the Office acknowledged that often it did not succeed in acknowledging complaints within the desired 10 working day timeframe.
I should also add that I have recently 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.
In relation to the assessment of validity of a complaint, it is worth noting that the FSPO often receives complaints which are appropriate for a different Ombudsman or relate to products and services or service providers that do not fall within the remit of the FSPO. Where possible, the complainant is redirected to the appropriate body. The FSPO has informed me that, in 2018, 142 ineligible complaints were closed in this way. A further 100 complaints were closed in 2018 during the adjudication process, following consideration of jurisdictional issues. In some instances where complex jurisdictional issues arise, I understand that the FSPO often has to undertake considerable work in order to come to a determination as to whether the Office had jurisdiction to deal with a complaint.
I would also remind the Deputy that the FSPO wrote to all members of the Houses of the Oireachtas informing them of the Protocol for the Provision of Information to Members of the Oireachtas by State Bodies and providing a dedicated email address for the timely provision of information to members of the Oireachtas.