Friday, February 24, 2012

Inquiry into the Local Government Ombudsman.

The Communities and Local Government Committee has launched an inquiry into the Local Government Ombudsman.

The committee said it would take oral evidence from the Ombudsman after Easter on its 2011 annual report and on its activities.

MPs on the committee have invited submissions from interested parties on the LGO’s work.

The call for evidence asks for submissions to cover issues such as:
The function, purpose and remit of the LGO, including the proposed restructuring of the Commission; 
The volume and nature of complaints made to the LGO and expected trends; 
The arrangements for handling complaints;
The adequacy of redress when maladministration is found;
The impact of the extension of jurisdiction to include complaints from those who arrange or fund their own adult social care;
The impact of the LGO's work on local authorities, particularly whether it leads to better administration and improved quality of service;
The LGO's Strategic Corporate Plan and business plan; and
The LGO's management of staff, resources and budgets.
The CLG committee stressed that the inquiry would not look at individual cases considered or before the LGO, nor its handling of particular cases.

It has asked for submissions to be made by 4 pm on 23 March 2012.

Each submission should:
be no more than 4,000 words in length; 
begin with a short summary in bullet point form; 
be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible; and 
be accompanied by a covering letter or email containing the name and contact details of the individual or organisation submitting evidence.
A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to and marked "Building Regs (SIC)". (My comment: Obviously they shouldn't be marked Building Regs, I think the DCLG just copied and pasted this by mistake from another inquiry, I intend marking mine 'Inquiry into the LGO')

It is helpful, for Data Protection purposes, for contact details not to be included in the text of submissions, but sent separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

A guide for written submissions to Select Committees may be found on the parliamentary website.

My comment: Download a guide here PDF.

Please also note that:

Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work may be included.

Memoranda submitted should be kept confidential until formally accepted by the Committee. The Committee has authorised the publication by witnesses of their evidence, but such publication should await the formal acknowledgement of acceptance of the submission as evidence to the Committee.
Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee.

The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or making it available through the Parliamentary Record Office.

If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence. Read more here

My comment:  I, together with a number of colleagues, will be submitting evidence on behalf of Ombudsman Watch, Public Service Ombudsman Watchers, The Ombudsman Watchers Resource Centre and myself as a Local Government Ombudsman Watcher. 

However, I would urge all complainants who have suffered further injustice because of the Local Government Ombudsman and the corrupt system of administrative justice they operate to consider sending a submission of their own. 

Please note that the committee can not and will not get involved with or consider individual cases. In addition please try and keep your submission as clear and concise as possible. 

Together we may be able to improve the system of administrative justice in England
for the benefit of all complainants.

Footnote: A list of committee members can be found here 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The LGO: One rule for complainants and one for MPs

Ombudsman agrees to look into Age UK grievance against council following MP's intervention,

A local government watchdog has reversed its decision not to investigate Watford Borough Council over the Age UK Hertfordshire saga following intervention by the area’s MP.

The Local Government Ombudsman will now look into a complaint by Age UK that it has been "defamed" by the authority following the acrimonious fallout between the pair over a £500,000 repairs bill.

Originally, Age UK Hertfordshire was told by the watchdog that it would have to pursue its grievance against the council through the courts.

However Watford MP Richard Harrington then wrote to the ombudsman saying he felt it was inappropriate for the charity to go down an expensive legal route and asked the organisation to clarify its position.

 Mr Harrington said: "I was pleased to receive the letter from the ombudsman in response to my letter to them to discuss avenues through which Age UK can be represented.

"I am satisfied with the response from the ombudsman clarifying that the charity is able to take recourse through the ombudsman as I feel is proper for charities who cannot afford to pursue cases through the courts.

My comment: Most complainants can't afford to pursue their cases through the courts but the Ombudsman still rejects them. Whilst I have every sympathy with the charity many complainants, who's complaints have been rejected by the Ombudsman, have suffered from much more serious injustice than defamation. This is a clear case of one rule for the ordinary complainant and another for a charity supported by an MP. 

The Ombudsman should treat every complaint the same not give MPs special treatment. In addition MPs should support all complainants who can't afford to pursue their complaints through the courts and not pick and choose those which are likely to give them the maximum possible positive publicity.

Read the full story from the source Watford Observer

Suicidal man's compensation from council 'nonsense'

A SUICIDAL resident forced into bankruptcy by Torbay Council over an unpaid council tax bill has described his compensation offer of £1,000 as a 'nonsense'.

The council has made the £1,000 offer despite Ombudsman recommendations that it should pay the man £25,000 after a report last year found wrongdoing by Torbay Council.

The case went before South West ombudsman Dr Martin in May.

My comment: Yet another council that ignores the recommendations of a Local Government Ombudsman. And another case that illustrates the length of time it takes for the Ombudsman to get of their backsides and do something.

Read the full story from the source This is South Devon