The FCA wants to widen access to the Financial Ombudsman Service, enabling more firms to act if they feel badly treated by banks.
Currently, only individuals or firms with fewer than 10 staff can use the Ombudsman to settle financial disputes.
Under the FCA proposals, firms with up to 50 staff could use the service. This would mean an additional 160,000 small firms would be able to use the service, the FCA says.
Larger businesses will still have to use the courts to settle disputes. Launching a consultation into the idea, the FCA said there needed to be an effective dispute resolution mechanism for small businesses.
But Mike Cherry, national chairman of the FSB, said the changes were disappointing: “During the downturn, we had entrepreneurs forced under by complex, unregulated products. They then struggled to achieve redress because their businesses no longer existed. It’s not clear that, under these proposals, there would be enough protection for small businesses if they were faced with similar circumstances in future.”
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