The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has confirmed plans to extend the Financial Ombudsman Service to a greater number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Under the plans, SMEs with an annual turnover below £6.5 million and those with fewer than 50 employees will be able to direct their unresolved complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
The FCA calculates that, as a result of the changes, around 210,000 additional SMEs will be eligible to use the service.
It has published 'near-final' rules on the matter, allowing the Financial Ombudsman Service to begin to prepare for the changes. Final rules will be published 'later this year'.
Commenting on the news, Andrew Bailey, Chief Executive of the FCA, said: 'We recognise it is vitally important for SMEs to have a mechanism to resolve disputes, and we are clear the Financial Ombudsman Service is the right route for this.
'The changes we are making are as far as we think we should go within our powers, but they will provide access to the Ombudsman Service for a significant number of smaller businesses.'