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FOS cuts 600 staff over 2016


The Financial Ombudsman Service slashed more than 600 jobs last year, a Freedom of Information Act request reveals.

In January 2016, headcount at the complaints handling service stood at 3609. This had fallen to 3296 by June, and 2974 by the end of the year.

The largest monthly drop came between September and October, when 89 staff were cut.

Apfa senior policy adviser Caroline Escott says that the qualifications and training of staff at FOS will remain important as numbers drop.

She says: “I think the emphasis here should be less on staff quantity and more on the quality and capabilities of FOS staff.

“It is important that FOS adjudicators at all levels have the knowledge and understanding necessary to deal with what can be complex cases.  Apfa has held discussions on this and other issues with the FOS and we were pleased that they committed to looking at how they could be more transparent about the qualifications held by FOS adjudicators and ombudsmen, as well as the training provided.”

Departmental divides

FOS was also able to provide a snapshot of headcount per department as at March 2015.

This shows that payment protection insurance staff made up the largest team within the organisation, with a headcount of 1362 in one of its two PPI teams and 169 in the other.

In total, the FOS had 217 ombudsmen making decisions on cases, supported by a 41 strong ombudsman operations department and a 19-member legal team.

The communications and customer insight team had 54 members, and the chief executive office had a staff of 14.

The FOS is currently introducing a new way of working to try and deal with complaints earlier on in the process, in which ombudsmen work closely with groups of five investigators with the aim of bringing them closer to the frontline and reduce the cost of resolving complaints.

FOS chief executive Caroline Wayman told Money Marketing in November that she wanted ombudsmen “to be in the heart of the organisation” and work with the public and financial services industry more.

Personal Finance Society Keith Richards says: “FOS have become more collaborative with the advice profession in recognition of the lower risk and valuable service provided to the public. The Financial Advice Market Review has helped to bring greater focus and debate on the need to better protect the public by increasing access to advice and it’s important that this continues throughout 2017.”

Contracting out

Overall staff costs are at FOS are projected to fall from £167.9 m to £165.5m in 2017/18, according to the organisation’s proposed budget.

However, the FOS’ overall budget looks set to increase by £30m as the organisation plans to increase its use of contractor staff.

Contractor staff costs were budgeted at £40m for 2016/17 and are set to rise to £70m in 2017/18.



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There are 6 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Last time I checked the FOS had 50% of its staff from agencies on temp contracts. Is it these staff that have been booted?

    • Depends when you last checked. About 2 years ago, pretty much everyone on a fixed term contract (3 years) got made permanent. The question is – how many are quitting? And why?? Have you seen Glassdoor recently?

  2. So they cut a lot of their staff who are on an average salary of £24k and replace them with contractors on £205 a day. And these guys are supposed to be the experts!

  3. If contractor staff costs are going up, then probably not.

  4. I think a lot of people have left FOS willingly. You only have to on Glassdoor to see how unhappy it’s staff are and how they’re concerned with where it’s heading.

  5. Since this article was written it’s all going down hill fast at FOS.

    FOS have said it’s about quality of staff not quantity. I think that’s simply untrue. The whole restructuring process is to reduce staff numbers without offering employees a fair redundancy consultation process. They created a new role of investigator that in the main went to people with little or no knowledge or experience of the financial products being complained about. The same is true of many of the new ombudsman managers now at the heart of the complaint process.

    I think the changes target usually older more experienced staff who are forced to become data entry clerks in PPI wasting so much talent and knowledge.

    FOS says that despite all the negative reviews by current employees on glassdoor the consumer feedback is positive. However,it’s supposed to provide an impartial dispute resolution service. It does not represent one side or the other. FOS is now obsessed with consumer feedback as being the only measure that it is doing its job correctly. I believe some sort of independent auditing of its more recent cases might be interesting.

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