WHAT/WHO IS THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT OMBUDSMAN?
The Local Government Ombudsman was set up by the Local Government Act 1974; it is a national body that investigates complaints about local authorities and promotes good administrative practice.
- Is Independent and impartial.
- Has the same powers as the High Court.
- Can order anyone to produce information or documents for their investigations.
A 'complaint' to the Ombudsman will usually be about maladministration by the council. This will usually be where the complainant believes there is a fault in the way that the Council has or has not done something. This can include:
- The council took too long to do something.
- The council did not follow its own rules or the law (e.g.; it may have made a decision when it does not have the powers to do so; often called 'ultra vires').
- The council broke a commitment or a promise.
- Someone was treated unfairly.
- Gave the wrong information.
- A decision was not made in the correct way.
The Ombudsman will investigate if an injustice has been caused by that maladministration. 'Injustice' means:
- A person or group did not get a service or benefit they were entitled to or suffered a delay.
- A financial loss.
- Distress or upset was caused.
HOW DO YOU MAKE A COMPLAINT?
Before you complain to the Ombudsman, you must 'complain' to the council first and give them the time to answer your concerns.
A complaint must be made to the Ombudsman within one year of the first problem.
Further information is available from the Ombudsman's website.
Alternatively, you can call the Ombudsman's Advice Team on 0845 602 1983
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I HAVE MADE MY COMPLAINT?
As the Ombudsman may have to gather a lot of background information together, it can take many months to reach a decision.
Where the Council is found to be at fault the Ombudsman may require the council to pay some compensation and he may also instruct them to undertake additional work.
There is no appeal on the Ombudsman's decision except though an application for a Judicial Review at the High Court. However, the Ombudsman will review a case if sent new information.