I am writing to advise you of some changes to our membership fee structure which will be implemented for renewals from January 2020.
- Fee Review
As I highlighted in the annual report for 2018 TPO Membership fees have not increased since 2014, however, enquiries and complaints have risen by 73% and 40% respectively during this period. Reserves have already been used to support investment in new systems, but with increased costs of running the scheme, together with planned investment to enable ongoing improvements to the efficiency of the process, we have found it necessary to review and adjust our membership fees.
The basic fee will increase from £195 + VAT to £225 + VAT, which is largely in line with inflation had annual increases been made between 2014 - 2020. Discounts will continue to be available to organisations either based on continued membership of Propertymark, as is the case now, or by size. There is an opportunity for organisations with group structures to consolidate their membership should they choose to do so to maximise the discount available. You can review the full fee structure in the document overleaf. TPO are also introducing payment by direct debit to make it easier to register and renew, and to ensure there are no gaps in membership. You will be invited to sign up in due course.
I would like to assure you that as a not-for-profit Ombudsman scheme, the revised fee structure is based on Ombudsman principles of fairness, effectiveness, openness and transparency, rather than profit-making principles. TPO understand that your costs have been stretched over the last few years, so increasing fees is not a decision which has been taken lightly but is absolutely necessary to ensure a properly resourced scheme is in place, the current fee structure no longer covers the cost of the service.
- Fair Use Policy and Raising Standards
In addition to the increased annual fee, TPO membership will support a ‘fair usage’ policy which will enable up to three Ombudsman supported complaints per branch, per renewal year. Branches which generate more than three Ombudsman supported complaints will pay more towards the cost of the scheme by paying a case fee for the 4th and subsequent Ombudsman supported complaint. There will be no additional charge for cases which are not supported, or those which are resolved without the need for an Adjudicator review.
TPO believe that by introducing fair usage, agents will pay to use the scheme proportionately. Many of our members are single branches and in reality, current complaint figures show that case fees will only apply to 0.23% of those members. We hope this approach will act as incentive to drive better service to consumers and encourage agents to resolve complaints at an earlier stage.
Chair, TPO Finance & Performance Committee