National Ombudsmen
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Ombudsman welcomes Which? campaign for better public service complaints handling

The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) has welcomed Which?’s campaign highlighting the accessibility of the public services complaints process.

The consumer organisation’s latest research suggests that many people are unsure of to whom they should complain when they are unhappy with a public service and a third of people who experienced a problem in the past 12 months did not complain.

In the LGO’s evidence to the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) in December, it stated that a single public services ombudsman for England could provide people with a unified, consistent and comprehensive service avoiding the current confusion over where complaints should be directed. The current confusion is illustrated in the LGO’s
complaints maze.

Such a unified system would offer a single portal for public services complaints which could be more effectively promoted and make it easier for people to find their way to the ombudsman.

The LGO also called for a statutory requirement for all providers to signpost complaints to the ombudsman, as is the case in the financial and legal sectors. This would ensure that the public are made aware of their right to complain when services fail and they are not satisfied with the local complaints handling process.

Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman, said:

“I called for a single Public Services Ombudsman for England in our evidence to the Public Administration Select Committee’s inquiry into complaints about public services in December.

“I believe that this would provide the public with a more accessible route to redress when they are let down by public services and would ensure greater local accountability of those services.

“I welcome the support that Which? has given to the principle of a single public services ombudsman and look forward to working with them to make sure the current public services complaints system better meets the needs of those who need to access it.”

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