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The service has published its annual review of personal finance disputes and revealed it has to handle around 4,000 enquiries each working day.

Around 200,000 of these end up with disputes dealt with by the service - up more than a quarter on the previous year.

Payment protection insurance (PPI) complaints have played a huge part in the figures, as expected. More than half of new cases, a total of 104,597, were about PPI - the highest number ever received in a year about a single financial product.

The service is an independent organisation that settles disputes between consumers and financial companies.

Natalie Ceeney, chief executive and chief ombudsman, said: “This year has been the busiest in our ten-year history - with over 200,000 disputes referred to us and a million front-line enquiries.

“This reflects the increased confidence of an ever more diverse range of consumers getting in touch about a wider range of problems and issues.

“Aside from PPI cases, over the year we’ve seen encouraging signs of improvements in the way that some businesses are handling complaints - and it’s good to see that the number of disputes about some other financial products has now started to fall.”

The annual review also revealed that the number of investment complaints dropped by 30pc, banking complaints fell by 9pc and the ombudsman’s involvement resulted in compensation for consumers in 51pc of cases.

Complaints about consumer credit, travel insurance and motor insurance increased, while complaints about health insurance, current accounts and home contents insurance fell.

Responding to the annual review, Sarah Brooks, head of financial services at Consumer Focus, said: “The FOS is to be commended for helping with so many consumers’ complaints this year.

“The banks’ battle to dodge its PPI responsibilities has damaged the industry’s reputation, tied up the ombudsman’s resources and worst of all left consumers out of pocket and out of patience.

“We now urge banks to deal promptly with PPI complaints so consumers are not forced to go to the ombudsman and a line can be drawn under the whole sorry affair.

“A decrease in wider complaints is to be welcomed.”


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