Francis Maude: economic recovery is gathering pace

Horsham MP Francis Maude
Horsham MP Francis Maude
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I have recently had an annual update from the Financial Ombudsman Service and thought I might share with you the changing profile of enquiries received from people living in the Horsham constituency.

The number and type of complaints is usually in line with the concerns raised in my postbag, and it is good to know that people know where to turn for help.

During the last financial year (2012/13), 1,129 people living in Horsham contacted the helpline – an increase of 94 per cent on the previous financial year.

This led to the Financial Ombudsman taking on 644 complaints which required investigation from people living in Horsham, up from 343 in 2011/12.

Currently the FOS is upholding around 46 per cent of complaints from Horsham in favour of the consumer. This means that the business has not treated the consumer fairly, so it has had to pay some form of compensation.

The top five most complained about products from people living in Horsham were:

PPI – 424 (up from 167 in 2011/2012)

Credit card accounts – 32 (up from 16 in 2011/2012)

Current accounts – 22 (down from 25 in 2011/2012)

House mortgages – 17 (up from 14 in 2011/2012)

Motor insurance – 16 (down from 17 in 2011/2012)

As you can see, there has been a significant rise in the number of PPI complaints from people in my constituency. While this is in line with general complaint trends across the UK as a whole, it’s good to know that people in Horsham know where to turn if faced with a financial problem.

But the Financial Ombudsman Service tends to find that it’s those people who don’t know about it who need it the most. This is why they regularly host events and drop-in clinics for local communities across the UK, aimed at raising consumer awareness of financial rights.

Most of us have felt the pinch over the last three years, a legacy of huge government debt and profligate spending on many wasteful things which we as a country could ill afford. We in government have made huge progress in getting to grips with this but there is much more to do. I’m sure we all welcome today’s news that inflation has recently fallen by two per cent, easing pressure on family finances. The economic recovery is gathering pace but we must not be complacent: as a local electrical contractor reminded me on Friday, surviving the recovery needs just the same focus as surviving the recession if businesses are to emerge leaner and fitter, ready for real sustainable growth.