§ Mr. Clifton-Brown
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many(a) Pensions Ombudsman and (b) Financial Ombudsman cases were considered in the last year for which figures are available; how many cases were (i) upheld and (ii) rejected; what the average time taken to consider a case was; and what the average cost per case was. 
§ Ruth Kelly
The Pensions Ombudsman operates a two stage process. Stage 1 involves identifying which applications are to be accepted for investigation and redirecting those where the decision is not to investigate. Stage 2 involves an in-depth investigation.
The Pensions Ombudsman's Office tell me that for the year ended 31 March 2003, they dealt with a total of 4363 cases. The table below shows a breakdown of all cases resolved during the period:527W
Outcome of cases Year ended 31 March 2003 Stage 1 3,684 of which 98 per cent. of decisions were taken within four weeks. Stage 2 679 decisions made in the course of the year.
So far as the Pensions Ombudsman's formal determinations are concerned 23 per cent. resulted in a finding of the complaint being upheld; 34 per cent. of the complaint being not upheld and 43 per cent. of the investigations which were closed.
The unit cost per case is divided by the expenditure of the office by the 679 Stage 2 completed investigations, the average cost per case is £2,160; and for Stage 1 completion the cost is £336. There is however an element of double counting involved in the last calculation: a case which went through Stage 1 at the beginning of the year and where the Stage 2 completion was before the end of the year will be counted as two cases in the calculation which produces the 336 figure.
It is not possible to answer the query about average time taken to consider a case without incurring additional costs. However, the times taken to complete Stage 2 cases were:Cases taking in excess of 12 months 240 (35 per cent.)Cases taking between 6 and 12 months 255 (38 per cent.)Cases taking less than 6 months 184(27 per cent.)The Financial Ombudsman Service tell me that for the financial year ending 31 March 2003, the Financial Ombudsman Service received a total of 62,170 cases.
The following table shows a breakdown of the outcome of all cases resolved during the period.
Outcome of cases Year ended 31 March 2003 Percentage Resolved by mediation or conciliation 40 Resolved after investigation by an adjudicator 49 of which: 13 mixed outcome (partial win/lose for both sides) 18 in favour of the consumer 69 in favour of the firm Resolved by final decision of an ombudsman 11 of which: 15 mixed outcome (partial win/lose for both sides) 35 in favour of the consumer 50 in favour of the firm
The average time taken to resolve cases in the year ending 31 March 2003 was 135.8 days.
The unit cost per case (calculated by dividing the total expenditure—less financing costs—by the number of cases closed) for the year ending 31 March 2003 was £518.