Friday, October 02, 2009

How many people complain to the DCLG about the LGO

On the 28th August 2009 I submitted the following Freedom of Information request via the What Do They Know website

'I would like to know how many complaints (letters of dissatisfaction) have been submitted to your department about the Local Government Ombudsman over the last five years.'

I received the following response on the 23rd September 2009

'Thank you for your request, received on 28th August, for information about the number of complaints the Department has received about the Local Government Ombudsman over the last five years. Your request has been considered under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Unfortunately it will not be possible to provide you with the information you have asked for. This is because I estimate the cost of searching for, extracting and supplying you with all the information relevant to your request would be in the region of £1,000. We are not obliged to provide information if the cost exceeds £600'

Their response implies that they don't keep records of complaints about the Local Government Ombudsman and the only way they could provide a response to my FOI request was to search all correspondence over the last five years.

Before I requested an internal review I decided to submit the following message to clarify my understanding of the situation.

'Just to confirm the situation, are you implying that you don't record complaints against the LGO and that the only way you can identify the number of complaints submitted to your office over the last five years is to look at every letters received by your office over that period?

If that is the case I would like to know how you keep ministers aware of the number of complaints against the LGO.'
On the 30th September I received an acknowledgement

'Trevor - Thank you for your email below. A response is being prepared and we will send a reply to you shortly.'

I await their final response but will if necessary submit a complaint to the Information Commissioner because it is absolutely ridiculous to suggest that they don't keep a record of a citizen's dissatisfaction with an organisation that they sponsor and only use the LGO annual reports, statistics and surveys as the basis for deciding whether or not the LGO, as a tax payer funded quango, are providing an adequate system of administrative justice.

Fact: It cost the taxpayer over 6 times more to fund the LGO than they recommend as settlements for public authority wrongdoing.

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