Saturday, August 27, 2011

LGO and Council silly season is here again

It's that time of year again in which councils receive their annual spin letters from the Local Government Ombudsman. Get your councils full annual letter here and find out how many cases of wrongdoing and maladministration the LGO buried for them.

Local press all around the country are printing extracts from their council's letter with the misleading headline...NO MALADMINISTRATION. However, nothing could be further from the truth. It's all down to the use of a devious tactic I like to call statistical gymnastics.

When is maladministration not maladministration? If an ombudsman finds maladministration but the council agree to pay a paltry amount of compensation it is not recorded as maladministration. However, should the council refuse to pay a paltry amount of compensation it becomes maladministration and reported as such.

This forces the council to publicise the fact that the ombudsman has found maladministration, which usually costs more than the settlement the ombudsman would have been happy with. Therefore, only a stupid council would turn down the ombudsman's offer to terminate a complaint if they pay the complainant a paltry amount of compensation. Which on average is less than £600.

A cheap and nasty pseudo system of administrative justice allows local government ombudsmen, councils and government to bury council wrongdoing and maladministration on the cheap, so it's a win, win, win situation for them.

The only losers are complainants who don't get the justice they deserve and of course the general public who are left in the dark about the true level of council wrongdoing and maladministration.


  1. Is Parliament coping?
    The Health Select Committee have recently found in their Complaints and Litigation Inquiry that the “ NHS Complaints system is not working”(something we already know!)

    Question therefore: If the Health Select Committee have found “The NHS Complaints system is not working, say MP’s” and “Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman role needs a complete overhaul” …..why the Public Administration Select Committee didn’t find this during its annual scrutiny of PHSO process just two weeks earlier?

  2. A Select Committee also looked at the role and effectiveness of the Local Government Ombudsman some years ago. I actually submitted written evidence and attended the select committee oral questioning of the Ombudsmen. It was a fiasco, the MPs didn't really have the knowledge of expertise to ask the right questions let alone understand the problems. The investigation was suspended for the 2005 election and soon after a new chair of the select committee quietly terminated any further investigation.

    Essentially the only regular scrutiny for all Public Service Ombudsmen is that they have to submit an annual report to Parliament. The problem is nobody ever checks to see if they are actually telling the truth in their annual reports.

    It is a well know fact that the Local Government Ombudsman manipulates their statistics to look better to Parliament and the public than they actually are.

    Until we get a few MPs with both the balls and willingness to tackle the problem we have to suffer such pathetic watchdogs as the LGO, PHSO and CQC.

    What is needed is independent ongoing scrutiny of all Public Service Ombudsmen.