RBS to close small businesses compensation scheme

UPDATE 4 — RBS said on Friday it is writing to “all remaining eligible UK customers” to provide three months’ notice that the complaints process against its disgraced global restructuring group (GRG) will close to new complaints on October 22, 2018.

The GRG unit is alleged to have mistreated thousands of small businesses it was supposed to help during the financial crisis.

“The complaints process was opened to UK customers in November 2016 alongside the Automatic Refund of Complex Fees,” said RBS.

“The Automatic Refund process was completed in July 2017, with offers worth £115 million made to 3,500 customers.

“To date, the bank has received 1,230 complaints from the 16,000 customers eligible to use the scheme, and a further 165 complaints from those outside its scope.

“The bank has issued a conclusion in 803 cases, upholding 370 in full or part and making offers of £10,033,437 for direct losses.

“The bank is currently receiving about six complaints a week, a number that has been in decline since its peak of 35 a week in December 2016.”

RBS said the process is overseen by an independent third party, retired High Court Judge Sir William Blackburne.

“As at the date of his sixth quarterly report, Sir William had received 169 appeals and communicated a conclusion to 55 customers,” said RBS.

“He has upheld 15 appeals in full or in part and has awarded a total of £38,000 additional redress to be paid to customers.

“It was announced on 10 May 2018 that the role of the Independent Third Party would be expanded to include appeals on consequential loss outcomes.

“To date, the bank has received four claims for consequential loss.

“If successful, consequential loss claims are likely, on average, to result in higher payments to customers than those for direct loss.

“Customers who wish to make a complaint once the scheme has closed will be able to utilise the bank’s usual complaints procedure but will not be able to appeal to the Independent Third Party.

“Both Sir William Blackburne and the Financial Conduct Authority have been consulted in respect of the closure of the complaints process.”

RBS chairman Howard Davies said: “Throughout the GRG complaints process – which was first announced more than 18 months ago – our focus has been on putting things right for those customers who did not receive the level of service and understanding they should have done whilst in GRG.

“We have worked hard to ensure high quality and fair decisions have been reached in response to the issues raised.

“These have been subject to rigorous independent assurance.

“The number of complaints is continuing to decline and with the Independent Third Party agreeing to accept consequential loss appeals, we have concluded that this is the appropriate time to give our UK customers notice of its closure to new complaints.”

The FCA said in a statement: “Ahead of this decision, we have made it very clear to RBS that it should give customers every opportunity to take part in the complaints process for SME customers transferred to GRG.
“We requested that they clearly communicate the deadline to all affected customers with sufficient notice.
“We also asked them to ensure that the arrangements for considering complaints after the deadline take on-board any learnings.”
Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “From the outset, the GRG redress process has moved at a snail’s pace.
“A decade on from many of these cases arising, we still have a situation where a third of claims are unresolved.”