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FOS spends £400k on office move

The Financial Ombudsman Service has spent £400,000 on relocating to a new office building, Money Marketing can reveal.

Last year, the organisation relocated from South Quay Plaza to Exchange Tower, both in London Docklands.

Responding to a Freedom of Information request from Money Marketing, the FOS says the annual rental cost for South Quay Plaza was £4.8m, and the annual cost for Exchange Tower is £5.4m.

It has spent an additional £400,000 on the relocation itself.

The FOS says it initially paid £20.84 per square foot to rent South Quay Plaza when it was set up in 2000, and later obtained additional space at an average rent of £26.32 per square foot as the organisation grew.

It is paying an average of £25.20 per square foot at Exchange Tower.

A spokeswoman says: “When our lease was coming up for renewal, as our existing building was too small for the organisation and there was talk of the building being re-developed, we began sourcing appropriate venues.

“The remainder of the South Quay Plaza complex was available for a rent of £25.00 per square foot, but due to the inefficient layout of the building this would have meant the FOS needing to take more space than other potential venues and we did not feel this provided appropriate value for money.

“Having considered numerous venues, we agreed to take a lease of 15 years that provided the best value for money in Exchange Tower for an average rental cost of £25.20 per square foot. We also have the capacity to downsize, should complaint levels reduce.”

The FOS says the relocation involved moving 4,000 staff. It has taken on 2,000 employees in the past two years, and plans to recruit 200 more case-handlers in 2015/16.

Separately, the FOS has also set out plans to cut its budget by 13 per cent in 2015/16 and maintain the current industry levy at £23.3m.

A budget of £221m has been proposed for 2015/16, down from around £254m in the current financial year, while the overall compulsory levy for the financial services industry will be frozen.

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Comments

There are 13 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Do FOS really need to be housed in (expensive) London ?

    I have a 15 acre field they can have at a fraction of the cost, perfect for the sheep that they seem to be !

  2. Derek Bradley ceo Panacea Adviser 8th January 2015 at 10:30 am

    Makes perfect sense….as always with these organisations:)

    More space with a more efficient layout is needed two del with what we found to be a particularly disturbing trend in the number of of firms who had experienced false or manufactured accusations from complainants in an attempt to gain compensation?

    http://www.panaceaadviser.com/main/st9965.htm

    So this takes space as well as time. Another unintended cost of regulation.

  3. Its an absolute disgrace that these leaches can decide to stay in an area where high rents are manipulated. There is plenty of vacant commercial property in the UK where the first 6 or even 12 months occupancy would be free of charge, but no lets continue to fleece the industry.
    Sick to the back teeth of the parasites who continue to work in a position of power and are totally unaccountable for their actions in this ridiculous sector of employment.

  4. This is yet another example of the civil service totally wasting public money and having absolutely no respect or consideration to how the public will pay for this. It would be much more appropriate as sweep stated to move the FOS out of London.
    Can any explain why the FOS needs to be in Central London in Prime rental?

  5. As asked above, why does the FOS need to be anywhere in London? Neither the ICO, the MoJ or even the DWP are based in London and I’d bet good money (ours, of course) that their square footage rental costs are vastly lower than those of the FOS. Even Martin Wheatley’s been talking about a lower cost alternative to 25 The Colonnade, though he’s highly unlikely to go as far as relocating 75% of the FCA’s staff outside London. Why not? Surely, the only presence the FCA requires in London is an executive one? Still, WTH, it’s all just OPM. There’ll always be a much of that on tap as the FCA considers it needs and, as ever, no external body to yank the reins and say Hang on a minute…

  6. Here we go again our money being wasted by an organisation that has no one to supervise them. As said neither they or FCA should be paying London rents. If they all moved out our fees would be lower

  7. What is the justification for FOS being in London and paying high London rents? The BBC were obliged to move some of their operations outside of London why should FOS or any of any of the other regulatory not do the same thing. Surely much cheaper rents could be obtained even a short distance from London.
    Do FOS produce accounts because I am becoming more and more bemused by the summary figures. They are taking on more staff moving to what seems like more expensive premises (it is not clear from the article). At the same time they are keeping their income approximately the same (they are not reducing the levy or charges for dealing with complaints) yet they are reducing their budget. Does this mean that they have a huge surplus from earlier years or what?

  8. Pendle Borough Council are looking for ideas to re-develop the former Smith and Nephew base at Briefield Mills near Nelson in Lancashire. It is an absolutely massive building and could house the whole lot of them (FCA, FOS, MAS, FSCS etc) for a fraction of the price of London (probably get several years free rent). It’s right by the motorway, 25 minutes from Manchester (traffic allowing), and there is a massive immigrant population on the doorstep who’ll work for quite cheap rates. Housing is the cheapest in the country (£20,000 for a 2 bed terrace), there is a Premier League club to watch in Burnley 3 miles away and some of the best curry shops in the country. Moorhouses brewery is local for those who like real ale and all our beers have a head on them. What’s not to love? Less than an hour to the coast (admittedly its Blackpool) and also 3 National Parks and an AONB within an Hour’s drive. Paradise!!!!!!!

    A lot of those BBC bods actually found out that there are large parts of the North that aren’t that bad once they got up here. Trouble is there would be a massive influx of Southerners and that can only lower the tone.

    I believe that both the DWP and NHS have major facilities in the local area. (no I don’t mean hospitals), so if it’s good enough for them?………………..

  9. FOS is a classic self fulfilling prophesy. Offer a FREE service and it looses is VALUE – just like the NHS. It is not surprising successive heads of the FOS are strongly against even the prospect of a modest charge per case being introduced. They know full well they would very quickly see their empire decline and the industry would complain at a cost of moving to smaller premises!

  10. What, live in a Foreign land…..north of Watford??!!

  11. The thing you have missed Phil, is that by employing an immigrant population where perhaps English is a second language there may be a greater level of understanding of the reality of the spurious claims.

    This is not to say that I am disparaging immigrants – moreso suggesting that the current staff have no understanding of such, or perhaps it’s no interest of such.

  12. @ phil I thought it was sounding great and then you mentioned Burnley FC………..

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