This Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) (‘the regulators’) consultation paper (CP) sets out changes to the Complaints Scheme to implement new legislative requirements.
Under the Financial Services Act 2012 (the 2012 Act) the regulators operate a Complaints Scheme (the Scheme) to investigate complaints against them. Section 20 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 (the Act) inserts new subsections 9A and 9B into Section 87 of the 2012 Act (investigations of complaints against regulators). These new subsections require the investigator (the Complaints Commissioner) for the regulators’ Scheme to produce an annual report on his or her investigations.
The Complaints Commissioner is an independent person appointed by the regulators, with the approval of Her Majesty’s Treasury. The Complaints Commissioner is responsible for conducting investigations in accordance with the provisions of the Scheme. The current Scheme has been run by the regulators since April 2013 and prior to this very similar arrangements were operated for over a decade by the Financial Services Authority.
Summary of proposals
Under new subsection 9A of section 87 of the 2012 Act, the Complaints Commissioner must now provide an annual report. New subsections 9A(a)-(c) require the Complaints Commissioner to prepare and publish the annual report and send a copy of the report to each regulator and the Treasury. If the report makes recommendations or criticisms about the regulators’ handling of complaints, each regulator must respond, publish the response and send a copy of its response to both the Complaints Commissioner and the Treasury. The Treasury must lay the annual report and any responses before Parliament.
New subsection 9B of section 87 of the 2012 Act provides express power for the Complaints Commissioner to determine the period to which each annual report must relate, and the contents of the annual report. In particular, under new subsection 9B the report must include:
- Information concerning any general trends emerging from the investigations undertaken by the Complaints Commissioner during the reporting period (new subsection 9B(a)).
- Any recommendations the Complaints Commissioner considers appropriate as to how the regulators should respond to such trends (new subsection 9B(b)).
- A review of the effectiveness during the reporting period of the regulators’ procedures for handling and resolving complaints investigated by the Complaints Commissioner (new subsection 9B(c)).
- An assessment of how accessible and fair those procedures were. This must include, where appropriate, an assessment of how the procedures affected different categories of complainant such as businesses and individuals (new subsection 9B(d)).
- Any recommendations about how those procedures could be improved (new subsection 9B(e)).
The Complaints Commissioner already publishes an annual report, the contents of which are set out in paragraph 7.16 of the Scheme and include:
- information concerning trends in complaints and on general lessons which the Complaints Commissioner considers the regulators should learn.
- information on the regulators’ activities during the last year including, for example, the approach they adopted to handling different types of complaint.
Section 87 of the 2012 Act sets out more detailed requirements regarding the production of the annual report and therefore it is necessary to amend the Scheme to reflect these.
The consultation closed on 9 March 2016.
Please address any comments or enquiries using the details provided on page 2 of the CP.
The regulators will publish the new legislative requirements, set out in the appendix to this paper, as part of the Scheme in a Policy Statement in March 2016.
Complaints against the Regulators (the Bank of England, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority) – CP5/16
Final policy in relation to this consultation is available under related links.