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ombudsman news

Q&As

featuring questions raised recently with our free, expert helpline for businesses and advice workers

As you’re not a government body, do you have to answer freedom of information requests?

Yes, we do. We’ve been subject to the Freedom of Information Act since November 2011, when we were designated a “public authority” - at the same time as the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

But we’ve always tried to be as transparent as possible about how we work - since we were set up in 2001. On our website, you’ll find information ranging from how we’re funded and what complaints we’ve received, to who works for us and which other organisations we work with.

So before making an official request, it’s worth checking whether your question’s already been answered.

I’ve seen the new part of your website about payday loans. I appreciate it’s a good thing to encourage people to get help, but aren’t debt problems out of your remit?

We know that, for some people, getting help with debt worries feels embarrassing or overwhelming. And making a “formal complaint” to a business isn’t always the obvious first step - and could be intimidating.

But if someone’s in debt, it’s likely they’ve been lent to by a business we cover. And it’s important they know that we can step in if they feel that business has treated them unfairly.

You’re right in that it’s not our job to offer debt advice. So we work closely with StepChange, the free debt charity, and the Money Advice Service - to make sure people who come to us are supported to sort out their finances once and for all.

We were doing this long before payday loans became a high-profile issue. And we work in a similar way with many other organisations - from Age UK and Samaritans, to Macmillan and the MS Society.

Why are you on Twitter?

Millions of people use Twitter. Like other social networks (where you’ll also find us) it’s an easy way to ask questions - and an easy way for us to give answers and share news. And if we can’t help, we can quickly direct people to someone who can.

upcoming events

for smaller businesses

  • PPI complaints and the ombudsman
    - 5 November, Bromsgrove
  • meet the ombudsman roadshow
    - 6 November, Derby
    - 19 November, Sheffield
    - 3 December, Woodford Green (Essex)

for consumer advice workers

  • workingtogether with the ombudsman
    - 11 November, Birmingham
    - 20 November, Milton Keynes
    - 25 November, Bristol
    - 2 December, Manchester
    - 10 December, Watford

For more information - and to book - go to news and outreach on our website.

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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.