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HMRC internal manual

Complaint Handling Guidance

Complaints to the Parliamentary Ombudsman: General

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration is also known as the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, or simply the Ombudsman. Unlike the Adjudicator, the Ombudsman scheme is statutorily based, drawing powers almost wholly from the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967, as amended.

The Ombudsman reviews complaints made by members of the public, through a Member of Parliament, about how government departments have handled their affairs. She assesses whether the department’s handling amounts to “maladministration” and, where so, whether this has led to an “unremedied injustice”. If it has led to an unremedied injustice, the Ombudsman will set out in her report the steps she considers we should take to put things right.

Maladministration is not defined in the relevant legislation, but will include departmental delays, poor decision making, inadequate service and failure to follow the department’s own rules and procedures. The Ombudsman does not investigate complaints about government policy, the content of legislation, legal judgements and court proceedings or complaints about personnel matters.

The Ombudsman aims to bring benefits to the wider public through influencing improvements in public services and informing public policy.

The Ombudsman will not normally review a complaint until we have had a chance to deal with it through our complaints procedure, including the Adjudicator stage, but can do so if she wishes. If the Ombudsman does decide to take up a matter that has not previously been referred to the Adjudicator, then the Adjudicator cannot consider it at the same time, or afterwards.