Legislation published to create single Public Service Ombudsman

The Local Government Ombudsman and the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman will be abolished and replaced with a single Public Service Ombudsman under draft legislation laid before Parliament.

The government agreed to the proposal following a consultation last year. Michael King, the preferred candidate to become the new LGO, described it as a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity in a recent Communities and Local Government Committee hearing.

The new ombudsman is intended to have stronger governance and accountability, easier-to-access services, and an explicit mandate to improve how it handles complaints.

Chris Skidmore, the minister for the constitution, who announced the legislation in a visit to the LGO offices in Coventry, 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.”

In a joint statement, the two current ombudsman services stated that 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,” they added.

“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.”

(Image c. alexskjope)

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