Latest Public Sector News

14.03.18

Council complaints ‘masked’ by ‘complexity’ of outsourcing arrangements

Councils cannot outsource the responsibility for the services they provide, the local government and social care ombudsman (LGO) has clarified.

Giving evidence to the public administration and constitutional affairs committee this week, Michael King described the issues that his office finds during investigations into councils’ management of external contracts and contractors.

He explained that dealing with complaints about services that have been outsourced to private or voluntary providers has been a “growing dimension of work” across all areas investigated by his office.

King said: “The law is clear: councils can outsource their services, but not the responsibility for them.

“Councils need to keep robust oversight of any organisations they contract with and have clear arrangements in place for how complaints will be dealt with.”

It is increasingly unclear who is responsible for dealing with complaints, and people’s ability to complain to the LGO is masked due to the “complexity of the service provision arrangements”, he added.

On the other hand, he said that councils with “well-thought out arrangements will hardwire learning from mistakes and public feedback into their contracts with their providers."  

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