The Ombudsman says the move will help it play its part in supporting UK consumers and businesses during the Coronavirus crisis.
The FOS says it has revised its original budget due to the “unprecedented” impact on firms of the pandemic.
To keep the burden on firms down, for 2020/21:
- The ombudsman service will maintain the number of “free” cases at 25 for firms outside the group account fee arrangement. It says nine out of ten firms will not pay any £650 case fees
- The number of “free” cases will be 50 for each group in the group account fee arrangement
- The FOS has asked the FCA to freeze all minimum levies at 2019/20 levels
The overall income the service takes from its levy will also be cut – with a case fee to levy income split of around 70:30, compared with the 60:40 split it consulted on. The Ombudsman says it will absorb the cost of the changes, amounting to £25.4m in total, by reducing its reserves.
The full plans will be published next week but the FCA has already approved the FOS 2020/21 Budget in principle.
FOS chief executive Caroline Wayman said: “The Covid-19 crisis is unprecedented – and at the moment, it’s simply not possible to anticipate the nature and scale of its consequences for lives and livelihoods. But it’s already clear that the businesses we cover will have a key part to play in mitigating Covid-19’s worst effects.
“In close collaboration with the FCA, we’ve worked hard to ensure we’re playing our part minimising the pressure businesses are facing. And we’re committed to resolving any complaints that arise – sharing what we’ve seen to prevent the same problems happening again.
“It’s also vital that we do all we can to support our own people – including ensuring those who are personally more vulnerable, or who are caring for others, have the flexibility to do what they need to. We’ll keep in touch with all our stakeholders as the year develops.”