Saturday, September 24, 2011

Another council exposes the LGO as a duplicitous toothless poodle!

SHEFFIELD Council has been criticised by the Local Government Ombudsman for its response to two complaints about housing repairs – including a case in which a tenant waited eight months for a gas service. Read the full story from the source The Star

The problem is that we have been here before, LGO criticises a council, council ignores them and carries on as before. The LGO can make recommendations but cannot force a council to follow them.

It's a bit like a judge saying to the defendant I recommend you go to jail for 3 months but have no power to put you in jail. Or I recommend you pay a fine of £250 but have no power to make you pay.

The LGOs are, and always have been, toothless poodles pretending to be  watchdogs with only one option and that is to suck up to councils in an attempt to gently persuade them to do the right thing and stop all their wrongdoing. Now whilst this tactic may work with the few good councils, what about the Wirrals, Barnets, Sheffields, Traffords and others of this world.

A commentator on the original article linked to about sums it up when they say: "Every year the LGO criticises Sheffield City Council for the way it treats the people of the city and expresses concerns over the way the council is run. The council are always guilty of deception, laziness, a lack of urgency and contempt for the LGO. And every year the council are allowed to carry on just the same. They never change and it seems nobody can make them. They are above the law and act accordingly." 

The bottom line is that the Local Government Ombudsman is a waste of taxpayers money for four reasons

1) they cost significantly more than they recover in compensation for the people who complain to them about injustice suffered through council wrongdoing.

2) in spite of them manipulating their statistics in an attempt to bury the truth, council wrongdoing has risen year on year.

3) in spite of them manipulating their customer satisfaction surveys in an attempt to bury the truth, the number of dissatisfied complainants has risen year on year.

4) they report too little council wrongdoing as maladministration, preferring instead to bury it with the help of the council as a settled complaint. Please note: The complainant cannot stop a council and local government ombudsman conspiring to bury their complaint this way. The average compensation is about £500.

The reason they prefer to bury complaints as settled is down to their lack of mandatory powers. If they were to report council wrongdoing for what it is, maladministration, the council is free to ignore any recommendations of compensation.

Therefore, if the LGO can get the council to agree to pay compensation this wouldn't expose the fact they can't force them to pay. However, they only thing they have to offer the council in exchange for agreeing to pay the compensation is that they won't record their wrongdoing as maladministration.

As a result most of the council wrongdoing in England is not reported it is hidden from scrutiny. Less than 1% of all complaints are reported as maladministration whilst some 25% of all complaints which consist of council wrongdoing are hidden as settled and not reported. In spite of the fact that the complainant had no say in the matter.

Unfortunately a full council only has to consider reports finding injustice through maladministration not settled cases, which leads to another and more serious problem. Settled cases aren't scrutinised properly by the council, allowing those guilty of wrongdoing, usually senior officers, to deviously cover their backsides at taxpayers expense.

If a Local Government Ombudsman's investigation is likely to reveal maladministration on the part of a senior officer all they have to do is offer to pay a few hundred pounds compensation to settle the case and hey presto the case is settled. The amount of compensation is usually less than they can spend under delegated powers and no report of injustice caused through maladministration is published. That means that the full council does not necessarily know about the incident. All that is reported to the full council in the LGO's annual review is how many cases were settled, not the full detail.

What doesn't help is that fact that many LGO and their staff are ex officers and were brought up knowing how to escape full council scrutiny by settling complaints early. Therefore, now working for the LGO they can hardly stop this devious practice because if they did they would have to admit they benefited from it when they were council officers.

Therefore the most accurate description of a Local Government Ombudsman is a duplicitous toothless poodle.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wirral Council: Where was the Local Government Ombudsman?

Wirral council have been in the news recently, read more here.

Mr Morton’s claims of bullying, cover-ups and maladministration have now led the independent inquiry to conclude that the authority needs a root and branch change in its culture.

 The council was in the grip of a “corrosive” and “inward-looking culture where the needs and rights of residents had become submerged under its bureaucratic machinations. Read the full story here.

How could such a badly run council have such a low number of findings of maladministration against them by the LGO?

2010/11  34 complaints NO maladministration reported by LGO.

2009/10  166 complaints NO maladministration reported by LGO.

2008/09 43 complaints 1 finding of maladministration reported by LGO.

2007/08 87 complaints  1 finding of maladministration reported by LGO.

2006/07 95 complaints NO maladministration reported by LGO.

2005/06 100 complaints NO maladministration reported by LGO.

2005/2011 525 complaints against Wirral Council and only 2 findings of maladministration reported by LGO. Now I call that a statistical impossibility unless your objective is to hide the true level of council wrongdoing or like Foulkes you were asleep on the job.

If a very badly run council like Wirral can get away with only 2 out of 525 complaints being reported as maladministration over a 6 year period just how much wrongdoing is reported by the LGO against the average council in any one year? Answer Less than 1%. 

However, if you think that is a ridiculously low figure, the LGO responsible for Wirral Council only found maladministration in only 0.1% of all complaints submitted in 2008. That's only 1 in 1000 complaints submitted were reported by Ann Seex as maladministration. Ten times lower than the national LGO average. And that's why councils like Wirral can get away with cover-ups and maladministration for years....until  of course someone else does the LGO's job and blows the lid off council cover ups and maladministration.

UPDATE 23/9/2011: The reason why the LGO are so bad? 

Now I am in the fortunate position of being able to tell you how easily badly run councils can deceive the Local Government Ombudsman. During a discussion with an investigator they stated that they had 'no reason to disbelieve anything a council told them'. Followed by the breathtakingly naive statement 'why would a council lie to us'.

How an earth can a complainant get a fair and impartial investigation of their complaints with the odds stacked so firmly in favour of the council? Even though the Local Government Ombudsman manipulate their statistics to make them look better than they are, they still report less than 1% of complaints as maladministration. Maybe the fact that all Local Government Ombudsmen and most of their staff are ex council will give you a clue.

I have been trying to blow the whistle on the LGO for years but like Wirral Council, the Care Quality Commission and others, they can get away with it for years until a scandal forces the press and our elected representatives to lift the lid on these corrupt quangos and public sector bodies.

Friday, September 16, 2011

An old joke about the LGO but still valid

Question: Why is a Doctor held in much higher esteem than a Local Government Ombudsman?

Answer: A Doctor makes an analysis of a appalling illness whereas a Local Government Ombudsman makes you ill with a appalling analysis!


Q: What's the problem with jokes about Local Government Ombudsmen? A: Local Government Ombudsmen don't think they are funny whilst other people don't think they are jokes.

Arguing with a Local Government Ombudsman is like mud wrestling with a pig: after a while you realize that the pig actually enjoys it.

Council Chief Executive responding to a Local Government Ombudsman, 'If I want your opinion, I'll give it to you'.

I'd like to see things from a Local Government Ombudsman's point of view but I can't get my head that far up a chief executive officer's arse.

A Local Government Ombudsman is about as useful as a windscreen wiper on a goat's arse.

Judging by the old saying, "What you don't know can't hurt you," makes a Local Government Ombudsman practically invulnerable.

The Local Government Ombudsman promises to keep an open mind. The only problem is that everything goes straight through.

We all spring from apes but Local Government Ombudsmen didn't spring far enough.