FCA confirms greater access for SMEs to the FOS

The FCA has confirmed plans to extend access to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) to more SMEs.

The service will now be available to SMEs which have an annual turnover below £6.5m and fewer than 50 employees or an annual balance sheet below £5m.

This should account for around 210,000 additional SMEs, which will now be able to refer unresolved complaints to the ombudsman service.

This is part of the ‘near-final’ rules published by the FCA and it intends to publish the final rules later this year, with the rules set to come into force on 1st April 2019.

Andrew Bailey, chief executive at the FCA, said: “The changes we are making are as far as we think we should go within our powers, but they will provide access to the ombudsman service for a significant number of smaller businesses.

“Before this their only option was potentially a costly legal one through the courts.

“The changes are an important extension of the ombudsman service’s role and remit.

“We will work closely with them to ensure that they are ready, so that SMEs are able to benefit from the new rules as soon as they come into force.”

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