Our annual complaints data shows the volume of complaints we received and resolved, and the proportion of complaints we upheld in consumers’ favour, over the course of the financial year, between April 2021 and March 2022.
456,594 in 2020/21
279,146 in 2020/21
- 5,369 about payment protection insurance (PPI)
42,040 in 2020/21
- 159,191 about general casework
235,993 in 2020/21
- 703 about claims management companies (CMCs)
1,113 in 2020/21
249,144 in 2020/21
- 18,243 about payment protection insurance (PPI)
85,496 in 2020/21
- 199,400 about general casework
162,420 in 2020/21
- 1,097 about CMCs
1,228 in 2020/21
overall uphold rate
31% in 2020/21
uphold rate excluding PPI
40% in 2020/21
Data from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022. Totals above includes all complaints received and resolved by the Financial Ombudsman Service and its two sub-brands, the Financial Ombudsman Service for Small Businesses, and the Claims Management Ombudsman.
General casework refers to all product types other than PPI and complaints about CMCs.
What we have seen and who we have helped
In 2021/22, we received over a quarter of a million enquiries from people with concerns about financial matters. In many cases, we provided advice to consumers and businesses, preventing issues from escalating into a formal complaint.
In line with our forecasts at the start of the 2021/22 financial year, our incoming complaint volumes returned to more normal levels than those of the 2020/21 financial year, with fewer complaints about PPI, Covid-19, and guarantor loans and home credit.
Complaint volumes – excluding PPI, home credit and guarantor loans – are now comparable to before the pandemic
We resolved 218,740 complaints in 2021/22, and the overall uphold rate was 38%. As expected, we received and resolved fewer PPI complaints than the previous year. However, we resolved 23% more cases in our general casework (cases other than complaints about PPI or CMCs), meaning we were able to get answers to more customers and significantly reduce our backlog – driving forward our Action Plan to further change and improve the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Current accounts and social media
Current accounts were the most complained about product. We received nearly 25,000 new cases in 2021/22. A substantial proportion of these complaints were from victims of fraud and scams, with most relating to “authorised” fraud, where consumers are tricked into transferring money into accounts that they believe are legitimate. Complaints about “authorised” fraud increased by more than 20% to 9,370 in 2021/22, compared to 7,770 in the previous financial year. We upheld around three quarters of “authorised” scam complaints in the consumers’ favour.
Over the last year, we have also seen an increase in scams involving social media, and scams relating to fake investments. Based on analysis of our casework, the increase could be in part driven by people attempting to make additional income when they were on furlough during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier this year, we formalised our Wider Implications Framework, with the financial services regulatory family and other organisations. Tackling “authorised” fraud is one of the issues which we are progressing under the framework and we have worked with our colleagues in the regulatory family and with industry to share insight to prevent formal complaints, and help businesses adhere to the Contingent Reimbursement Model (CRM) Code.
While we took on fewer cases about historic unaffordable lending in 2021/22 than in previous years, we saw increased complaints about unaffordable lending in second charge (repayment) loans. This type of secured loan on a property, usually with a higher interest rate, is provided by a different lender than the main mortgage provider. Our casework insight shows we have seen more examples of vulnerability, debt and consumers falling behind on payments for a product they could never have afforded, with some loans carrying a 35% interest rate.
We continue to work closely with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to ensure a coordinated approach to addressing complaints about lending. We also provide a range of resources to help lenders do this, including information about our approach to resolving cases, and a database of ombudsmen’s decisions.
Complaints about businesses’ customer service accounted for over 35,000 of the complaints we handled. Issues ranged from businesses and their customers being unable to find a way forward to resolve an issue, to businesses’ lack of care and attention to detail, which could have prevented complaints escalating earlier.
Small mistakes sometimes lead to a greater impact than might at first be realised. For example, we saw that a business did not update an address correctly on a customer’s account, meaning extremely personal information was sent to the wrong party, putting the consumer at risk of harm.
Continuing to put things right in 2022/23
In the coming months, we anticipate seeing more complaints related to increased living costs driven by high inflation rates and high fuel prices. In addition, we may see a rise in people being unable to access credit, people being exposed to sophisticated scams, and people potentially finding themselves struggling with new and existing debts.
We will continue to develop our technical guidance for businesses and consumers on how to make a complaint, and to clearly signpost where we can or cannot help. Where we cannot help, we will ensure consumers are directed to the right organisation as quickly as possible. For example, in September 2021, we introduced a complaint checker tool on our website, to enable consumers and small businesses to check if we are the right organisation to look at their complaint. As a result of this tool, thousands have been signposted to other organisations which are better placed to help them resolve their complaint. We have also recently improved our telephone helpline messaging options.
As we have set out in our refreshed strategy, we are committed to continuing to provide answers to consumers as quickly as possible and sharing our insight to help prevent complaints and unfairness from arising, and on continuing to deliver our Action Plan.
Banking and credit
Total new complaints: 108,065
Most complained-about product: current accounts – 24,335 new complaints
Most complained-about issue: administration or customer service – 24,352 new complaints
Total resolutions: 141,539
Overall uphold rate: 43%
Highest uphold rate: running account credit* – 70%
Lowest uphold rate: packaged bank accounts – 5%
*a type of short-term loan that is like an overdraft facility
We continued to receive complaints about fraud and scams in our casework in 2021/22, seeing a continuation of the trends we saw in the previous financial year, as set out in our annual complaints data insight for 2020/21.
In 2020/21, we saw a substantial increase in complaints linked to borrowing and high-cost credit, with the vast majority of complaints relating to guarantor loans and home credit. These complaints are typically linked to historic lending, with consumers concerned they were lent money they never could have afforded to repay. In 2021/22 we still received just over 19,000 new complaints about historic unaffordable lending, showing this remains an important issue across the wider industry.
We have continued to see high uphold rates across credit products, where we see the most complaints about unaffordable lending. Reflecting this, in 2021/22 complaints about running account credit had the highest uphold rate at 70%, though we see relatively low numbers of complaints about this product.
Insurance (including PPI)
Total new complaints: 38,496
Most complained-about product: car or motorcycle insurance – 9,310 new complaints
Most complained-about issue: claim declined – 11,196 new complaints
Total resolutions: 58,361
Overall uphold rate: 28%
Highest uphold rate: special event insurance (wedding insurance) – 66%
Lowest uphold rate: business protection insurance – 10%
Complaints about wedding insurance, travel insurance and business interruption insurance – which we had previously seen in higher volumes due to the impact of Covid-19 – fell in 2021/22.
We continued to see complaints where insurers could have done more to set out clearly what a policy covered, to help consumers understand what they were buying. In particular, we saw instances where special conditions and exclusions were not made clear in policy documents, meaning consumers were unaware of them and were unsuccessful when they claimed.
The FCA’s new General Insurance Pricing Rules came into force on 1 January 2022. These require insurers to offer new and existing customers the same price. We have been engaging with firms, the Association of British Insurers and the FCA to help understand complaints consumers may have as these rules take effect. We also updated our website guidance on insurance pricing complaints.
Investments and pensions
Total new complaints: 16,276
Most complained-about product: personal pensions – 2,662 new complaints
Most complained-about issue: administration or customer service – 6,340 new complaints
Total resolutions: 16,460
Overall uphold rate: 28%
Highest uphold rate: Free Standing Additional Voluntary Contributions (FSAVC) – 45%
Lowest uphold rate: State Earnings Related Pensions Scheme (SERPS) – 9%
Complaints about personal pensions were the most complained about investment and pension product in 2021/22. In these complaints, people told us they had been recommended an unsuitable pension arrangement, or they had been given wrong or incomplete information about a pension, meaning they lost out on income or annuity payments.
We worked closely with the FCA and Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) to increase engagement with members of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) who had received unsuitable advice to transfer their pension and could be due compensation. This year we received over 550 complaints about the BSPS and of the cases we have resolved we upheld over 90%.
Following the 2016 Financial Advice Market Review, we also publish additional data relating to complaints involving financial advisers.
Claims management companies
Since 1 April 2019, we have been able to look into complaints made by consumers about CMCs they have used to make complaints on their behalf. We report separately on volumes of complaints we have received and resolved about CMCs.
Total new complaints: 703
Most complained-about CMC activity: PPI claims – 477 new complaints
Most complained-about issue: administration or customer service – 338 new complaints
Total resolutions: 1,097
Overall uphold rate: 30%
Complaints about how CMCs have handled PPI claims remained our most complained-about CMC activity in 2021/22. Many of these complaints were from customers who were unhappy with their CMCs’ actions in chasing fees.
These complaints have started to decline, mirroring the decline in PPI complaints, following the FCA’s deadline for making a PPI complaint.
Download the full data set
Annual complaints data – 2021/22
xlsx (49 KB)