Saturday, August 11, 2012

LGO taking steps to change. Why? Because they can no longer bury the truth

Background

The LGO had already responded to the panning the received from the Government select committee. Read my response to that here. You can also read the highlights of the panning they received here.

Following that Simon Danczuk (One of the select committee members) wrote an article for the Guardian about the LGO becoming pickled in aspic. Read his Guardian article in full  Local Government Ombudsman risks becoming 'pickled in aspic'

The chair of the Commission for Local Administration in England (CLAE) better known as the Local Government Ombudsman has now also responded to the criticism from Simon Danczuk MP.

The following is my analysis of the LGO's response to extracts from the Simon Danczuk article

As previously my comments in blue.

Responding to criticism from Simon Danczuk MP, the chair of the councils watchdog says it is opening itself up to public scrutiny. Why was it not already open to public scrutiny? They have been in existence for some 38 years.

The job of the local government ombudsman is to provide an independent means of redress to individuals for injustice caused by unfair treatment or a failure of duty by local authorities and care providers. A job they have demonstrably failed to do for the last 20 years or so.

More than a quarter of these decisions identified significant injustice and achieved redress. Restorative justice is our focus and we have achieved this for thousands of citizens across the country. More spin and propaganda from the LGO. Whilst more than a quarter identified significant injustice it is significantly lower percentage than other ombudsmen. In addition, the majority of those didn't achieve proper redress, the investigation was closed down when the Council offered the LGO a paltry settlement in order to stop the investigation and bury rather than report the fact that the council was guilty of maladministration. The complainant has no say in the matter, complaints are closed and settled between the LGO and the council.

But I am acutely aware that as a vital frontline public service we must continually strive to improve our performance and adapt and evolve as an organisation. I welcome the report from the Communities and Local Government Committee for underlining the need for us to be ready and willing to be held to account for the quality of our work. Strive to improve their performance? I doubt it could get much worse, reports findings of maladministration have dropped to an all time low. However, there has been an increase since they were panned by the select committee, so the select committee must have touched a nerve. 

I have set out four objectives: provide a complaints service direct to the public which is accessible, responsive, consistent and objective; ensure sound decisions and appropriate redress based on impartial, rigorous and proportionate investigations; use our knowledge of complaints to identify best practice, promoting good public administration and influencing public policy; and finally, proper stewardship of public funds. Wow, they have just decided to do something they should have been doing for the last 38 years.

Openness, transparency and accountability must be central to everything the ombudsman does. During the first quarter of next year we will publish a summary statement online of every decision we make. This will mean that all of our decision making is open to scrutiny. It will also enable citizens to make informed choices – on care providers, for example – and provide useful feedback to local councils and MPs. If Openness, transparency and accountability must be central to everything they do, why for the last 20 years or so have they been so secretive, opaque and unaccountable? Or have they just decided to be open, transparent and accountable because of the panning they received from the select committee.

Councils and citizens expect us to work openly; we will make sure we understand their perspective and that they help to shape our services. It's a bit late in the day for the LGO to start doing the job citizens have expected them to have been doing for the last 38 years. Furthermore, they will never understand a complainant's perspective until the start to talk to and listen to, rather than ignore, dissatisfied complainants. As I and others have proven, you ignore a dissatisfied complainant at your peril.

[For every customer who bothers to complain, 26 other customers remain silent. - The average "wronged customer" will tell 8-l6 people about it. Over 20% will tell more than 20. Source: Lee Resource Inc] And the odd one like me will tell thousands :-)

I believe we are now taking the necessary steps to transform the Local Government Ombudsman into an organisation which is well respected for meeting the needs and the expectations of the public. If the LGO want to transform, as they suggest they want to do, they could start by doing the following. 

STOP
- ignoring dissatisfied complainants.
- trying to justify stupid and irrational decisions.
- fiddling statistics to make themselves appear more effective than they are.
- manipulating customer satisfaction surveys by removing dissatisfied complainants.
- report all council wrongdoing as maladministration.
- accepting council statements without validation.
- the spin, propaganda and bullshit.
- sending out sycophantic annual review letters to councils, which just helps them bury wrongdoing.
- fiddling comebacks.
- fiddling compliance percentages.
- fabricating documents.
- colluding with councils.
- letting councils pull your strings.
- tinkering with remedies to make them more palatable to councils.
- ignoring council lies.
- ignoring potentially criminal and illegal activity identified during an investigation.
- using fallacious reasoning to support decisions.
- withholding the full reasoning/rationale behind decisions.
- recruiting staff who have difficulty understanding logical and rational arguments.

Only then will the Local Government Ombudsman meet the needs and expectations of the public. When that day comes or in the alternative the Government get rid of them altogether, my job will be done.

10 comments:

  1. As someone who has had an experience of the LGO system encompassing almost everyone of the activities listed above, I heartily concur with everything you say. The mystery is why it has taken so long to bring any real focus on this shamelessly complicit body, which has failed to protect the interests of countless victims of council mismanagement over the years.

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  2. The select committee, which conducted the 2005 investigation into the Role and Effectiveness of the Local Government Ombudsmen, knew after their investigation that the LGO was not fit for purpose but chose to bury rather than report the fact.

    Seven years wasted because the 2005 select committee turned a blind eye to the LGO's failings. Ironically exactly what Local Government Ombudsmen have been doing for the last 20 years or so.

    I think things got so bad over the last 7 years the select committee could no longer ignore the issue and at last decided to do something about the Local Government Ombudsman. Just a pity they didn't replace them altogether with a fully functioning and fit for purpose system of administrative justice.

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  3. Watch very closely. This could simply be a charade - a bogus makeover, then back to business as usual.

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  4. Luckily the select committee, which recently panned the Local Government Ombudsman, has already announced they will be checking what improvements, if any, the LGO has made next year.

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  5. From bitter experience I fully support the criticisms of the LGO voiced on this site.

    I thnk the LGO would be better abolished rather than continue in its present bogus form.

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  6. Highly recommend signing up to the e-petition to scrap and replace the ombudsman's service: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/23568

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  7. How much investigation goes on and how much input takes place before a complaint is actually agreed by LGO to be investigated. So all of your stuff gets sent to the Council and and they are free to give it to the Council but you do not their submissions. So you get nothing back. How much for Confidentiality. How much for privacy. Why not have the ability to trust the Complainant and agree to formally investigate a case BEFORE Councils are given an open book to start submitting their own lies. The very first communication mentioned by our Council and given to the LGO was LIES. and LIES FOR WHICH WE HAVE EVIDENCE THAT THEY ARE lies. but NO-ONE LIKES YOU TO SAY THAT ANYONE lies. Still in process and still struggling and still trying to suggest that there is nothing left to investigate when a case is accepted or rejected because the investigation went on before it became an investigation.

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  8. I have been the victim of harassment, intimidation and lies by my local council for 10 months now and it seems to be increasing in the last few months. I was going to complain to the ombudsman about it but now I wonder if it's worth doing in case I will be heaping more coals on my head. I'm near breaking point with it all as it is and don't know how much more I can take frankly and if the ombudsman won't even look at what has happened and decide fairly, what's the point. According to my late mother, who was born in Germany before the war, local councils reminded her of what it was like to live in Nazi Germany, terrified at who will point a finger and what will happen if you don't toe the party line. I'm terrified!

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    1. The same thing happened to me and I went to the Ombudsman - a total waste of time, it just added to my stress and misery - they supported Barnet homes (Barnet Council),as I knew they would,just like they did when the contractors sent by Barnet homes did shoddy work - I complained to Barnet and they put me on a register; Barnet homes don't like you complaining about their incompetent contractors, so they banish you. Ombudsman independent? Rubbish. Barnet homes' solicitor wrote libelous remarks about me. The best thing you can do is find a housing solicitor.

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  9. ME TOO....... HAVE HAD A TERRIBLE TIME WITH CHERWELL DISTRICT COUNCIL. THE LGO COVENTRY OFFICE AND NOW THE ICO. I THINK THEY ARE ALL CORRUPT AND ROTTEN TO THE CORE. YOU CAN READ MY BLOG HERE. THE ICI POST IS IN PROGRESS AND NOT YET PUBLISHED.

    ANYONE THINKING OF COMPLAINING TO THE OMBUDSMAN WILL BE WASTING THEIR TIME. THEY WONT BE LOOKING AT WAYS TO HELP YOU, ONLY AT WAYS TO ATTACK YOU.

    THEY ARE OUT AND OUT BULLIES AND NOT FIT FOR THE JOB THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO DO.

    http://howsleepingdogslie.blogspot.co.uk/

    WE SHOULD GET A PETITION GOING TO RID THESE ****

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