The draft bill sets out in detail how the government’s plans to introduce a new Public Service Ombudsman will make it easier than ever before to rectify complaints about a range of public services.
The new body will be more accessible to individuals who want to raise a complaint and will ensure lessons learned from across government are used to improve services for everyone.
The new proposals seek to bring together the responsibilities of the current Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and the Local Government Ombudsman to create a new organisation with strengthened governance and accountability.
It will refine the process and improve access to the Ombudsman’s services as complaints can be made with or without the help of a representative and in a variety of formats to meet the digital age. It will provide important new powers to allow the new Ombudsman to work more effectively with an explicit role in championing improvements in complaints handling.
The Minister announced the draft Bill on a visit to the Local Government Ombudsman in Coventry where it was widely welcomed.
Minister for the Constitution, Chris Skidmore said:
This Government is determined to build a democracy that works for everyone - and in which everyone’s voice matters across the country.
That is why we are introducing a new Public Service Ombudsman to provide the public with greater confidence that their voices have been heard and their complaints taken seriously. Holding public services to account will ensure they are improved for everyone, and deliver a clear and secure democracy that everyone can have confidence in.
The Local Government Ombudsman and the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman have issued a joint statement that welcomes the move. It says:
The creation of a single Public Ombudsman Service will make it easier for people to have their complaints about public services resolved. The current complaint system is too complex and fragmented, leaving people confused as to which ombudsman to turn to if things go wrong or haven’t been resolved locally.
We have long been urging the government for these reforms, and are delighted we are one step closer to making this a reality. We will be looking at the proposals carefully and look forward to working with the government to agree a practical and realistic timescale.