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corporate plans and budgets » Plan & Budget 2003/04 - productivity, timeliness and service quality

productivity

5.1 For 2003/04, our working assumption is that there will be a reduction in productivity from 4.7 to 4.4 cases per case-handler per week. This decrease reflects:

the fact that we had to introduce one-off special measures to achieve the exceptionally high level of case closures in 2002/03; and

the extensive training programme we will undertake to enable caseworkers to work on cases outside their current specialism.

The productivity target of 4.4 complaints resolved by each case-handler each week will represent a 40% increase in productivity since 1999/2000. We can achieve this by ‘smarter’ working methods, our new casework system, modifications to the business process and improved performance management.

headcount

5.2 We have assumed that we will require an additional 30 case-handlers in order to reduce our work-in-progress by 4,000 cases - the equivalent of three weeks’ activity.

closures

5.3 We expect the increase in the number of case-handlers to result in our closing 59,000 cases in 2003/04.

improvements in timeliness

5.4 The boards of both the Financial Ombudsman Service and the Financial Services Authority have confirmed that resolving complaints speedily should be a key priority for us. We have therefore decided to refine our performance measures by adding two new indicators - measuring the number of cases we close within three months and within nine months. Our new targets are to close 45% of complaints within three months and 90% of cases within nine months. The number of cases we aim to close within six months, currently 75%, will be increased to 80%. In addition, we will report in detail to our board all cases that have been outstanding for longer than 12 months.

reduction in work-in-progress

5.5 In view of our recruitment of additional case-handlers, we plan to reduce the work-in-progress to the equivalent of 14 weeks by March 2004.

cross-training

5.6 The new organisational structure we put in place at 1 October 2002 has replaced divisions that reflected the structure of the former ombudsman schemes with more flexible business units. During 2003/04 we will devote a considerable amount of time to cross-training our case-handlers so that they are able to handle a broader range of complaints. This will have a short-term adverse effect on our productivity. However, our investment in creating a more flexible organisation will enable us to increase our productivity in future years.

alternative scenarios

5.7 a) increasing complaints. Our experience from previous years, where we have seen double-digit growth in new complaints, has illustrated the need to plan for significantly higher volumes of work than our ‘base’ forecast. We have modelled a scenario where new complaints increase by 10% more than our ‘base’ case. In that event, we would recruit an additional 15 case-handlers to close an additional 4,000 cases, while maintaining our work-in-progress at the equivalent of 14 weeks. Our productivity and timeliness targets would not change. Our unit cost would fall to £525.

b) Even if new complaints rose more substantially, our current accommodation has the capacity for an additional 10% of our headcount. Our IT system supports distance-working, and we currently use this facility for a small number of home-workers. Overall, we could cope with 35% more complaints than modelled in the ‘base’ case scenario before our additional accommodation requirements would require a step-change in our expenditure budget.

c) decreasing complaints. If there were a 10% reduction in new complaints, we would plan to:

  • reduce the average number of case-handlers by not replacing those who leave;
  • close 4,000 fewer cases; and
  • maintain our work-in-progress to the equivalent of 14 weeks.

Our productivity and timeliness targets would not change and the unit cost would be £585.

5.8

2001/02 actual
2002/03 forecast
2003/04 budget
2003/04 increasing complaints
2003/04 decreasing complaints
opening work-in-progress
14,781
18,917
19,417
19,417
19,417
new cases
43,330
55,000
55,000
60,000
50,000
case closures
39,194
54,500
59,000
63,000
55,000
closing work-in-progress
18,917
19,417
15,417
16,417
14,417
work in hand (weeks)
22
19
14
14
14
productivity
3.8
4.7
4.4
4.4
4.4
closed within three months
45%
45%
45%
closed within six months
73%
78%
80%
80%
80%
closed within nine months
90%
90%
90%
closed in under 12 months
100%
96%
closed in over 12 months
all cases reported to the board

conclusion

5.9 We are committed to improving timeliness and reducing the level of work-in-progress during 2003/04, whatever the level of complaints. Our new targets for closing cases within three and nine months will help us to provide a better service to our stakeholders.