Communities and Local Government CommitteeSupplementary written evidence submitted by Peter Ranken

This memorandum is supplementary to the memorandum issued to the Committee dated 3 March 2012.

Summary

The arrangements for handling complaints

Lack of accountability to the taxpayer of the actions and effectiveness of the Local Government Ombudsman in the way it handles complaints.

Lack of external regulation on behalf of the taxpayer of the Local Government Ombudsman’s use of its Government grant.

Submissions

In answer to the question of who is responsible for issuing the Government grant that funds the Local Government Ombudsman and who is the Local Government Ombudsman accountable to for the use of its grant The Treasury says (Exhibit A):

“As you note, the department for Communities and Local Government has policy responsibility for the Ombudsman; the Treasury is at some distance from all of this. Clearly the checks and balances that have been put in place are those that were considered by Parliament as appropriate and proportionate. As such with any service, there cannot be an infinite recession of appeal mechanisms”.

It is clear therefore that the checks and balances considered by Parliament as appropriate and proportionate on how the Local Government Ombudsman uses the grant it is given by Government to carry out is duties on behalf of the taxpayer are non existent as the Local Government Ombudsman deals with all complaints against it itself and therefore regulates itself.

There also needs to be clarity as to which Department is responsible for handling the funding of the Local Government Ombudsman.

Will the Committee please investigate this issue and in their report recommend that the Local Government Ombudsman is regulated in such a way that any taxpayer wishing to appeal against any decision or complain about the way a case has been handled can do so to an independent source in the knowledge that it is done so in a fair and just way.

Peter Ranken

23 March 2012

Prepared 16th July 2012