Almost a third of the Financial Ombudsman Service’s 2,500 staff have been hired on a temporary basis, including 19 ombudsmen who were paid a fee for each completed case.
A freedom of information request, submitted by Highclere Financial Services, found that between 6 December 2011 and 5 December 2012, the FOS employed 794 temporary staff.
Of those, 351 were contractors in various “professional roles”, of which 175 were case handlers. A further 19 were fee-paid ombudsmen, who were paid according to the number of financial decisions they issued.
The remaining temporary staff were assigned to administrative work.
The FOS says fee-paid ombudsmen are given a set number of cases to complete and they are not allocated additional cases if they complete their workload early.
It refused to disclose the salaries and case fees for temporary staff.
A breakdown of the 175 case handlers shows 135 were assigned to payment protection insurance complaints, 29 were assigned to mortgages complaints and 11 to banking complaints.
The FOS’ plan and budget for 2013/14, published last week, reveals staff and staff-related costs hit £83.1m in 2011/12, and are forecast to rise to £127.7m by the end of 2012/13 and to £198.4m for 2013/14.
A spokeswoman says: “Hiring temporary staff gives us flexibility in managing our staff levels and our finances.”
Highclere partner Alan Lakey says: “My main concern with these figures is the capability of FOS staff when so many are temporary. Advisers have no right of appeal against the judgments FOS makes, the least I expect is capable staff.”