The current requirement for complaints about central government bodies to be put first to a Member of Parliament should be removed. The individual ombudsmen should have a personal jurisdiction across the entire work of the new Commission. Readers may be aware that it had been reported that schemes in the UK were entitled to a free entry in the Yellow Pages telephone directory. However, it has emerged that this entry is only in respect of the area in which the office of each ombudsman is located. The cost of having an entry in all relevant directories in the UK would be prohibitive.
The limit on individual awards that the new Financial Ombudsman Service can make will be £100,000 although with consent it can deal with greater amounts. The Scheme has an annual budget in the region of £20m and will have up to 400 staff and 15-20 Ombudsmen. Custom Web Design On 1 April 2000 staff of the existing schemes became employees of the new Financial Ombudsman Service and, at the beginning of May, came together under one roof at South Quay in London’s docklands. But until the main provisions of the Act come into effect next year, complaints will continue to be handled under the rules of the existing schemes.
Under the new legislation the FSA is responsible for determining the scope of the Compulsory Jurisdiction (CJ) of the Financial Ombudsman Service and defining which complaints should have access to the CJ, as well as the overall monetary limits on individual awards and the types of loss that may be compensated under the CJ. One of the national newspapers had fun recently when I described becoming a public servant after 20 years in the voluntary sector as ‘joining a secret brotherhood’. By this, I did not mean that I had been inducted through a series of arcane initiation ceremonies.
On the contrary, it was the lack of formal induction which seemed perverse to me. I was regarded as very odd for insisting on a two week period ‘shadowing’ my predecessor as Prisons Ombudsman, Sir Peter Woodhead, although the experience proved invaluable. Indeed, I have been surprised by the extent of ‘electronic government’ – most of my communications with colleagues elsewhere in Whitehall are by e-mail. Rather, I meant that there was a whole language of codes and codewords, forms and formulae, hints, whispers and understandings, which had to be mastered.