Please note: Whilst this blog post was prepared just before midnight on Monday 16th July it was only published at 00.05am on Tuesday 17 July 2012 in line with Communities and Local Government Committee embargo instructions.
MPs call on the Local Government Ombudsman to raise its game
To deliver its role as independent arbitrator in disputes about unfair
treatment or service failure by local authorities, the Local Government
Ombudsman must tackle operational inefficiencies rapidly and conduct
its own activities with credible effectiveness, say MPs on the
Communities and Local Government Committee.
Launching a report of a recent inquiry that looked closely at the role
and efficacy of the Local Government Ombudsman, CLG Committee chair
Clive Betts said,
“First and foremost, the LGO must implement the changes identified by
the recent Strategic Business Review, so that it can live within its
means while providing the service to the public that is required by the
legislation and expected by taxpayer.
“LGO has been taking far too long to determine some cases. One of the
Ombudsmen conceded that the delay in determining some cases was itself
likely to amount to maladministration. This must raise questions about
the LGO’s authority and credibility. The organisation needs to apply
strict deadlines to all the cases that it handles.
“The LGO has also to develop a clear methodology to measure levels of
customer satisfaction and publish the results every year. It must also
put in place arrangements to ensure there is an annual evaluation of
its own activities and decision making by an independent external
reviewer, to ensure the LGO is itself fair, effective, open,
transparent and accountable. Such a reviewer should be appointed by the
end of this year and report for the first time no later than Easter
“Ministers must also take steps urgently to update the governance
agreement – the so called ‘Grant Memorandum’ - that it has with the LGO
so that the organisation can have a clear and comprehensive
understanding of its relationship
with, and responsibilities to, the Department for Communities and Local
In the report CLG committee concludes:
In future the LGO must be completely clear with all parties about the
criteria it applies in order to determine whether cases are assigned to
be resolved through a mediated process to achieve redress, or are
allocated for full investigation and formal determination. Likewise the
LGO must be transparent about the procedures that apply when any case
is moved from one process to another – such as when
The LGO management’s rationale for not publishing the 2011 Strategic
Business Review in full was ‘unconvincing’ and suggests there may be
insufficient appetite for change within the LGO.
The LGO must explain which findings from the Strategic Business Review
will be implemented in full and in part, and provide a timetable for
this in the response it makes to the Committee’s report.
The LGO needs to set out the arrangements and timetable for appointing
the new Chief Operating Officer (and their responsibilities) in the
response to the Committee’s report.
Government must explain how it will monitor the implementation of
reorganisation at the LGO.
An annual, independent staff survey should be reinstated at the LGO
with results published.
More info from the Committee's own website.
My Comment: More in a few days when I have fully digested the 90 page report but is certainly looks like someone has started to listen to all the criticism of the Local Government Ombudsman at long last.