Banks face higher bill for PPI mis-selling

Fears over compensation costs mount as watchdog upholds record complaints
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The Independent Online

Record complaints about mis-sold insurance could force the bill for Britain's banks higher than the estimated £10bn they have currently set aside to compensate customers.

Figures released by the Financial Services Ombudsman yesterday revealed that mis-sold payment protection insurance dominated complaints in the first six months of 2012, accounting for 63 per cent of new claims.

Natalie Ceeney, chief ombudsman, said: "The volume of PPI complaints doubled in the first half of 2012. We've been taking more than 3,000 calls on PPI a day."

But, alarmingly for the banks, more complaints about PPI were upheld than ever, prompting fears that the compensation bill could yet climb higher than anticipated.

Lloyds TSB had the highest PPI uphold rate, at 98 per cent, followed by the credit card firm MBNA at 97 per cent. Barclays, CitiFinancial, Welcome Financial Services, Bank of Scotland, HFC Bank and NatWest all had around nine-tenths of PPI claims against them upheld.

The figures are much higher than the average across all PPI cases, where the ombudsman upheld just 71 per cent in favour of the consumer.

There were 135,170 new complaints between January and June, up 27 per cent on the previous six months. Barclays once again topped the shame table with complaints reaching 23,703 in the first half of the year.

Next was Lloyds TSB with 12,235 cases, followed by MBNA with 9,185. Lloyds-owned Bank of Scotland was in fourth, while Lloyds' lending subsidiary Black Horse was sixth most complained-about firm.

It means Lloyds Banking Group easily retained its position as most complained-about financial group, attracting some 27,745 complaints between January and June, up from 20,310 in the previous six months.

Barclays Group doubled the number of complaints it attracted – from 12,273 to 24,457 – over the period but, despite that, Barclays has slashed its upheld rate – the percentage of complaints against it that the ombudsman found in favour of the customer.

In the last six months of 2011, Barclays' upheld rate was 84 per cent, but that fell to 53 per cent this year. Paul Maddox, managing director of customer service at Barclays said: "We have worked hard to improve our complaints handling."

Other banks also cut their upheld rate dramatically, with HSBC halving its rate from 80 per cent to 41 per cent while NatWest cut the number of upheld complaints from 85 per cent to 51 per cent.

The other businesses in the shameful list of top 10 most complained about groups – behind Lloyds and Barclays – were HSBC, MBNA, Royal Bank of Scotland (which owns NatWest), Capital One, Santander UK, Nationwide, National Australia (which owns Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks) and Aviva.