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Govt backs free FOS for public

The Government says it supports an ombudsman service which is free to consumers in response to Conservative plans for FOS complainants to pay an up-front fee.

A Treasury spokesman says the FOS is independent of the Government on decisions regarding its charging structure but the Treasury does not agree that a fee should be charged to consumers.

The Conservatives have called for complainants to the FOS to pay an initial refundable fee as a way of discouraging unreasonable claims. IFAs have to pay a 360 case fee whether or not the complaint is upheld.

The Treasury says an initial deposit would dissuade legitimate complaints, deterring consumers who believe they have a good case but are worried that the complaint may not be upheld.

It says the FOS does not charge firms until an initial examination of the complaint has determined that there is a issue to decide.

The Treasury says its thinking is in keeping with past Government policy. In November 2003, the then Treasury Financial Secretary Ruth Kelly said she would not support any change that meant the FOS was not free to consumers.

A Treasury spokesman says: “The Government supports an ombudsman service that is free to consumers. It is important that consumers have ready access to a credible means of redress without needing to take legal proceedings.”


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Election date revealed

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