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Mortgage industry complaints drop as Bank of Scotland tops table

Owain Thomas
Written By:
Owain Thomas

New mortgage complaints dropped by a fifth in the second half of 2017 to 4,498 from 5,647 in the first half of the year, according to data from the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

All the top five most complained about firms in the mortgages sector witnessed a fall in complaints – with Santander witnessing a substantial 29% fall from 736 to 520.

Bank of Scotland received the most complaints with 559, a decrease of 7% compared to 602 in H1 2017. Its ‘uphold rate’ – the number of complaints that were upheld – was 17% compared to 18% between January and June 2017.

The most complained-about non-lender was Connells with 42 new mortgage-related complaints in the six-month period, followed by Countrywide with 27. The average uphold rate for mortgages stayed stable at 24% throughout 2017.

Elderbridge had the highest uphold rate at 46% from 55 new complaints followed by Mortgage Express and Royal Bank of Scotland with 32% of complaints upheld. Meanwhile, Pepper had the lowest uphold rate at 11% from 42 new complaints.

PPI and credit dominate

The FOS figures cover financial businesses where at least 30 new cases were received and 30 were resolved in the six-month period from 1 Jul to 31 Dec 2017, with 219 businesses featuring in the complaints data – down by 11% compared to the first six months of 2017.

Complaints relating to these businesses made up around 90% of the total number of cases handled by the ombudsman service in this period. Overall 165,406 new complaints were received by the FOS – a decrease of 3% from 170,083 when compared to H1 2017. Of this figure, 92,231 were about Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) – an increase of 3% from 89,513 in the previous six months.

Consumer credit complaints continued to increase – up 11% to 16,328 from 14,752.

FOS scrutiny

The FOS has been under increased scrutiny during the last month following an investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme which raised serious concerns about how complaints were handled.

The non-executive board of the FOS will be appointing an independent party to investigate claims of poor staff training and alleged bias towards banks.