Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Fears for the future of the Local Government Ombudsman...

In its determination to 'cut red tape', central government gave us 'the bonfire of the quangos':
2010 UK quango reforms - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Government insists 'bonfire of quangos' will save £2.6bn - UK Politics - UK - The Independent
What happened to the bonfire of the quangos? – Telegraph Blogs

This also meant the cutting back of bodies such as English Heritage:
Spending review: English Heritage budget cut by 30 per cent | News | Architects Journal
Is English Heritage being turned into a government development agency? | HeritageDaily – Heritage & Archaeology News
English Heritage consultation | National Trust Places

and, more recently, the Environment Agency:
Inside the Environment Agency - Welcome to Inside the Environment Agency - Environment Agency job cuts bigger and quicker than expected
Don't blame the Environment Agency for floods. Blame the spending rules | Environment | The Guardian
BBC News - UK flooding: Environment Agency to cut hundreds of jobs

Within the context of increasing concerns for the future of local government
Futures Forum: Fears of losses in accountability at local government level...
there have been fears as to what changes in the Local Government Ombudsman service will mean:
The future of local accountability: Local Government Ombudsman Dr Jane Martin responds to LGiU consultation on the future direction of the LGO | LGIU: Local Government Information Unit

The 2012 report on the LGO made it clear that there would be substantial scaling back: 
The 'findings' included: 
reducing the space occupied in Millbank Tower in London and exiting the building by 2018 at the latest

Nevertheless, there has been real disquiet at how the LGO has failed to handle complaints against local authorities:
Local Government Ombudsman Watcher
Local Government Ombudsman Watch

However, with the closure of the London HQ of the Ombudsman in September and the cutting of the service by a third, it is difficult to know how an independent overview of local government can be assured...
As a correspondent has voiced: "Individuals' rights for redress are diminishing."
Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) | Devon Community Directory

A 'solution' might be the formation of a single Ombudsman service:

People failing to complain about poor public services

Laura Sharman 13 March 2014

Nearly half of people who complained about problems with a public service in the past year felt their complaint was ignored, according to new research from Which?

The research also found that a third of people who experienced problems with public services did not complain, with most saying it was not worth the effort. Of those that did complain, 39% said they were unhappy with the outcome.

Which? is calling on the Government to create a single public services ombudsman to deal with unresolved complaints and give people a greater role in triggering the inspections of services.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: 'Public services are vital to everyone and if something goes wrong it’s crucial that people feel it's worth speaking up to help stop the same thing happening again.

'Barriers to giving feedback must be removed if public services are to deliver the high standards that we all expect. We want to see a shake-up of the way complaints are handled, to give people the confidence that their complaints count and will trigger action.'

The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) has welcomed the Make Complaints Count campaign saying a single ombudsman would make it easier for people to know who to complain to.

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.’

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