From 1 April 2019, an estimated additional 210,000 UK small to medium enterprises (SMEs) will be eligible to complain to us, as well as some charities and trusts. Our rules will change so that we can look at complaints from:
SMEs with an annual turnover below £6.5m, and fewer than 50 employees or an annual balance sheet below £5m;
charities with income up to £6.5m and trusts with net assets up to £5m; and
individuals who act as personal guarantors for loans to businesses they’re involved in
Our remit will also be extended to complaints about claims management companies.
We will be able to help small businesses with complaints about most kinds of financial products and services provided in or from the UK.
We can help you with complaints about:
banking and credit, including bank accounts, payment services, secured loans and overdrafts
insurance, including vehicle, commercial property, business protection and legal expenses insurance
financial advice and investments
We will only be able to consider complaints made by SMEs about acts or omissions that take place after the new rules come into effect on 1 April 2019.
We will have a team of investigators who will look into the complaints we receive from small businesses. They’ll be led by a group of experienced ombudsmen who have the legal power to resolve and decide complaints. Our investigators and ombudsmen will be supported in their case-handling by two new groups we are establishing as part of our preparation to take on the cases we receive from small to medium enterprises - our expert panel and our small business advisory group.
Our small business team will be supported in their work by a panel of external experts from the small business sector. The panel of experts will be used as a flexible resource to provide support on individual cases, as and when the team needs to call on it. They will not decide cases (that will remain the role of our staff, the investigators and ombudsmen looking into the complaints) but they will provide our service with additional specialist knowledge and expert advice on cases, where necessary. For example, specialist advice on the structures and practices of small businesses, including the financial products they use and the areas in which they operate.
We will also have an advisory group, an important but informal group that will bring together stakeholders with an interest and expertise in the SME market. The advisory group will help provide the ombudsman service with additional insight and support, provide context for the SME market, as well as flagging concerns held and challenges faced by SMEs in relation to financial services.