FOS sees drop in mortgage complaints

The Financial Ombudsman Service saw a drop in the number of mortgage complaints it received in the last three months of 2011.

It received 2,383 complaints relating to house mortgages between October and December, down from the 2,796 it received between July and September.

Only 24% of the complaints were resolved in favour of the consumer between October and December, down from 33% in the previous three months.

Overall, FOS received 7,060 complaints relating to mortgages in 2010/11, down from 7,452 in 2009/10.

The figures however do not include complaints relating to mortgage endowments. FOS received 3,048 complaints relating to endowments during the year, down from 5,400 the previous year.

In this week’s 60 Seconds With interview, Jane Hingston, lead ombudsman for mortgages at FOS, told Mortgage Strategy that it is seeing a lot of complaints from consumers who are struggling with arrears and believe their lenders are not treating them fairly or with reasonable flexibility, as well as complaints about early repayment charges and porting.

Complaints about Payment Protection Insurance rocketed between October and December, with the ombudsman seeing 30,301 complaints, up from 19,259 in the previous three months.

In total, FOS received 104,597 complaints about PPI during the year, with 66% upheld in favour of the consumer.

In its latest newsletter, Natalie Ceeney
chief executive and chief ombudsman, says the ombudsman is keen to change the way it is funded.

She says: “Over the last few months, we’ve been talking with businesses and their trade associations to develop our thinking on new arrangements for case fees.

“We believe the new approach we’re suggesting would be fair to all case-fee payers – and could help encourage greater efficiency in complaints handling.”

For smaller users, it is proposing to increase the number of free cases from 3 to 25.

This would mean that only 1% of financial businesses would pay any case fees at all.

For the largest users – the ten or so financial groups that account for over 70% of its caseload, it is proposing a new group-account arrangement, which would develop over time to measure more accurately the total costs to the ombudsman of the work that each of these groups generates.

Ceeney adds: “This is still only an outline proposal at this stage. Depending on the views of case-fee payers and other stakeholders, we would aim to introduce a new charging structure from April 2013. We will need to consult again on these funding proposals, as further details are finalised.