National Ombudsmen
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Increase in complaints to the Local Government Ombudsmen

Complaints to the Local Government Ombudsmen increased over the last year and the upward trend is expected to continue, reveals their Annual Report 2010/11 – Delivering public value.

Complaints to the Local Government Ombudsmen increased over the last year and the upward trend is expected to continue, reveals their Annual Report 2010/11 – Delivering public value. Published today, the report shows a 21 per cent increase in complaints and enquiries dealt with at the initial point of contact, raising the number received to 21,840. This resulted in 7.5 per cent more complaints being forwarded to the Ombudsmen’s investigation teams, a total of 11,249 complaints in 2010/11.

Education and children’s services now forms the largest category of complaint considered by the investigation teams, increasing by 15 per cent from last year. Adult social care complaints concerning councils have increased by nearly 50 per cent from 667 in 2009/10 to 974 in 2010/11. Complaints about planning have reduced.

A major development during the year was the extension of the Ombudsmen’s powers into two new areas giving more people access to a free and independent complaints service. The Ombudsmen can now consider complaints from adults who arrange or fund their own social care, complementing their established role in handling local authority complaints about adult social care and giving them jurisdiction over all registered care providers. Legislation empowering the Ombudsmen to consider complaints from pupils or their parents about schools also came into effect during 2010/11. It currently applies to schools in 14 council areas.

“We anticipate that the pressures on public services in the current financial climate will lead to additional demand for our service,” said Dr Jane Martin, Ombudsman and Acting Chair of the Commission for Local Administration. “This is linked to potential growth in demand for our service as a result of public spending reductions and an increase in complaints about privately funded or arranged adult social care.

“As Local Government Ombudsmen, we provide an important mechanism for local public accountability. We have continued to develop our service to ensure that, as well as providing redress for individual citizens, lessons from complaints are used to improve local public service delivery and benefit the wider community.”

The total number of complaints where redress was obtained or recommended for the complainant was 2,474 – 27.1 per cent of all complaints determined (excluding the complaints that were outside our jurisdiction). This is very similar to the previous year (when it was 27.7 per cent).

The Annual Report includes a number of case studies illustrating the range of complaints considered and the remedies for personal injustice caused by the actions of local authorities, care providers and schools.

The report is published at the same time as the Ombudsmen’s Annual Review Letters on every local authority in England. The annual review letters provide a summary of the complaints that the LGO received about each council. All reviews will be on the LGO website in the Councils’ performance section. www.lgo.org.uk/CouncilsPerformance/

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