Written answers

Thursday, 4 July 2024

Department of Finance

Office of the Ombudsman

Photo of Brendan GriffinBrendan Griffin (Kerry, Fine Gael)
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241. To ask the Minister for Finance his plans to support the office of the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman in order that citizens’ disputes can be adjudicated on inside one year; if the office has indicated a need for additional staff; if there are any key vacancies of skilled staff that is prolonging adjudication timelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28965/24]

Photo of Jack ChambersJack Chambers (Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
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The Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO) is an independent, impartial, fair and free service that helps resolve complaints against financial service and pension providers from consumers and small businesses. It plays a vital role in the robust financial consumer protection framework in place in Ireland to support consumers of financial services.

In 2023, the FSPO received a record number of complaints (6,182), representing a 29% increase on the number received in 2022. 5,184 complaints were closed by the FSPO in 2023. This is a 12% increase on the number of complaints closed in 2022. In doing so, it delivered outcomes worth over €4.7 million to consumers.

85% of complaints that closed in 2023 were closed within 12 months of the complaint being made. Certain more complex complaints, including those requiring a formal adjudication process or formal jurisdictional assessment, or both, take longer to resolve.

This reflects the fact that adjudications by the Ombudsman are legally binding. Accordingly, it is important that every decision arrived at has followed due process and allowed both parties to make submissions and offer observations on the evidence and on the other party’s submissions, as appropriate.

The FSPO's Workforce Plan 2024-2026, which aims to increase the capacity of the FSPO to investigate complaints, was approved by the Minister for Finance in December 2023.

This resulted in an increased sanctioned headcount for the FSPO from 90.2 to 128 staff. This includes increasing the Investigation Service Team from 17.6 to 36, reflecting the increasing demand for services.

Other key roles proposed in the plan to address capacity gaps and the increasing demand for services include an additional Deputy Ombudsman, an ICT Chief Information Officer and further roles in areas such as Legal Services, Registration and Assessment, Dispute Resolution Services, Finance, HR, and Customer Service.

The FSPO has now recruited the majority of those roles, with 13 vacancies left to recruit in the coming months.


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