Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Ceisteanna (124)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

124. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance the number of complaints received to date in 2019 by the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman; the number of cases settled by the ombudsman within timeframes (details supplied) from all complaints received to date; and the percentage of the number of cases settled from the total number received according to the timeframe in tabular form. [37193/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

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.

The Office of the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO) was established on 01 January 2018 to resolve complaints from consumers, including small businesses and other organisations, against financial service or pension providers. The establishment of the FSPO resulted from the merger of the Office of the Pensions Ombudsman and the Financial Services Ombudsman’s Bureau. 

The Ombudsman has informed me that the FSPO inherited 3,178 complaints from its predecessor bodies.  5,692 complaints were received in 2018 and 4,178 new complaints were received up to and including 9 September 2019. 

In 2018, the office closed 4,443 complaints leaving a balance of 4,427 complaints on hand at the end of 2018. Up to 9 September this year the office has closed 3,242 complaints.  

To answer the Deputy's question as to the number of complaints received (4,178), the percentage and number closed up to 9 September 2019 the Ombudsman has provided the following information:-

 

Months

 Number of Complaints

 % of total (4,178) received that were closed

 Within 2 months

241

 6%

 Within 4 months

311

 5%

 Within 6 months

201 

 7%

 Over 6 months

 49

 1%

 Total

 802

 19%

In light of the backlog, earlier this year I sanctioned an additional 35 staff members. This will allow for delivery of a better faster service for consumers while tackling existing waiting times.  It will also aid the delivery of the objectives set out in the FSPO Strategic Plan 2018 – 2021.  Recruitment for these additional resources has already commenced, with an initial tranche of new staff joining the organisation in September 2019.   

On the issue more generally, the Ombudsman has also informed me that new complaints are dealt with in sequence based on the date they were received by the office.  While the high volume of complaints received has impacted the complaint registration process and has given rise to delays at various stages of the process, it is important to note that the duration required to register, mediate, or investigate a complaint can vary depending on the number and nature of submissions made by the parties to the complaint. This sometimes involves an extensive exchange of evidence and submissions. At all stages of the process, each complaint is considered on its own merits.

I understand 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.