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ombudsman news

issue 71

August 2008

opening up, reaching out

Maybe a suggestion in early August that readers of ombudsman news should study our two recently-published policy statements on accessibility and transparency is not particularly well-timed.

My more cynical friends tell me such documents are never going to make a tempting holiday read. But even if I can't persuade you to download them off our website and read them, let me explain why we've produced them.

For some organisations, an accessibility policy might be about little more than putting in wheelchair ramps. But for an organisation like ours, where our users rarely physically visit us, an accessibility agenda is much wider, and covers all aspects of the service we offer to our users - from our opening hours to the way our complaint-investigation process works. And when we have implemented it all, the result should be a really improved, more modern, experience for those who interact with us.

The transparency agenda marks a significant shift in our practice as it includes publishing complaint-data about individual businesses - something we have not done before but which we have now decided to do. Next month we'll publish a discussion paper on how we'll implement the decision.

Lord Hunt titled his recent review of our service "Opening Up, Reaching Out, Aiming High" - and this suggested a full programme of action. Our policy statements setting out the decisions of principle we have made on accessibility and transparency issues certainly flag the way towards a new-look, new-style Financial Ombudsman Service in a couple of years' time. So why not read all about how we intend to get there-

 

Walter Merricks
chief ombudsman

 

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ombudsman news gives general information on the position at the date of publication. It is not a definitive statement of the law, our approach or our procedure.

The illustrative case studies are based broadly on real-life cases, but are not precedents. Individual cases are decided on their own facts.