You are not alone
We are often dismayed to read the accounts of injustice that we receive from those who contact us. We can assure you that you are by no means alone in your experience of injustice from a public authority and a Public Service's or the Local Government Ombudsman. We have received harrowing accounts of injustice. It is very distressing to be suffering an injustice at the hands of a powerful, uncaring and bureaucratic institution where it seems nothing can be done to put it right; and it is even worse to suffer further injustice from the very institutions that are supposed to protect them from Public Authority maladministration. For example the Local Government Ombudsman makes the laughable claim to be an impartial arbiter but in fact is appallingly biased in favour of local councils.
It is very easy for individuals in such circumstances to feel isolated, sense that they are being singled out for bad treatment, and imagine that if they could only find a right-thinking individual in the institution, or submit that one ultimately compelling, finely-tuned argument to the individuals concerned, it would bring about a transformation in the treatment of their case.
Unfortunately, we are dealing here with self-interested institutional exploitation of power, and a degree of unaccountability that is inconsistent with the values of a democratic society. People can be driven to depression and stress-related illnesses by their treatment at the hands of Public Authorities and Public Servicessss or Local Government Ombudsmen. It is important to remember that the blame lies with the perpetrators of injustice and not with the victim. And there are many, many victims.
Have you complained to a Public Services or Local Government Ombudsman?
Our correspondents have often already complained to a Public Service's or Local Government Ombudsman and write to us to let us know about the injustice they have suffered from these institutions. As Public Service's and Local Government Ombudsmen seem totally unaccountable to the British public in the current framework, our sphere of influence is very restricted; at present, we are simply gathering case material with a view to publicising it once we are in a position to do so. We regard the campaign as a long-haul one, which unfortunately offers little solace to people who understandably need urgent solutions.
Although Public Services and Local Government Ombudsmen are biased, it is always possible that they will act fairly in your individual case, especially if it is a serious one, and ask the Public Authority to put things right. That does happen in a small proportion of cases, and after all, if they did not uphold any cases at all, the bias would become too transparent for their comfort. Public Authorities know that, if the Ombudsman makes recommendations that they ignore, he can publish a formal report, which hits the local news. Our experience, however, is that sometimes people suffer serious injustice from a Public Authority, and then from the Ombudsman, which just compounds their misery; but you might decide to lodge a complaint with a Public Services or Local Government Ombudsman despite these reservations. Another possible outcome is they givie advice to the Public Authority that would constitute a partial resolution to your problem. Even though this might deprive you of the full and just resolution you deserve, it might be worth accepting the compromise to achieve closure, for the sake of your peace of mind and good health. If you proceed with a complaint to a Public Services or Local Government Ombudsman, it might be useful to mention in your complaint that you are aware of the LGOWatch and Public Services Ombudsman Watchers websites, are concerned about the evidence of bias, and that you intend to keep us informed of the progress and outcome of your complaint.
If they agree to investigate your complaint, it will be assigned to an Investigator. It is as well not to allow first-name terms to develop between you and your Investigator. S/he might be pleasant and attentive, and you might be feeling optimistic, but it is possible that he or she will become yet another adversary, and is certainly not your ally.
It is also a very good idea to write to them to complain about unfair treatment of your complaint. It is not unknown for a Public Services or Local Government Ombudsman to change their mind as a result of a tenacious complaint about the Investigator’s judgement. Unfortunately, it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the oil. If you do decide to go ahead with a complaint to the Ombudsman, perhaps you could let us know the outcome.
Please click on the link for the Public Services or Local Government Ombudsman's website. If you are unsure whether a complaint falls within their remit to 'investigate.
Can we advise you whether to submit a complaint to an Ombudsman?
No. We exist to collect evidence provided by those who have taken complaints to a Public Services or Local Government Ombudsman and who feel that they treated them unfairly, and also to publicise the high level of Ombudsman complainant dissatisfaction in the media and in the political domain with the aim of raising awareness of the problem and bringing about the abolition of his office. The high level of local government maladministration, and the pro- Public Authority bias, particularly the pro council bias of the LGO, are not at all unconnected.
We are unfortunately not therefore in a position to advise those who contact us as to whether or not they should refer their complaint to a Public Services or Local Government Ombudsman, which is a decision to be made at the discretion of the complainant after having taken into account all the relevant circumstances and options. On account of our remit and very limited resources, we are also regrettably unable to become involved in individual cases of complaint against Public Authorities. This by no means implies, though, that we do not sympathise with the accounts of appalling maladministration by local councils brought to our attention. Indeed, most of our supporters have had an experience of injustice from a Public Authority.
Often, those writing to us have already complained to a Public Services or Local Government Ombudsman and write to let us know about the injustice they feel they have suffered from those institutions. We regard our work as a long-haul, which, we are aware, unfortunately offers little solace to people who understandably need urgent solutions.
Alternative and additional action
Although we do not have the expertise or authority to advise people on how to pursue their complaints against a council, we can only make suggestions as to what we ourselves would consider in the same circumstances. Contacting a local councillor might be a good idea, and if he/she is of no help, then contacting the opposition councillors at the town hall. There is always the option of contacting your Member of Parliament; some are more conscientious than others, of course. If you do so, please let him/her know about our campaign, and please let us know how supportive your MP was. Getting in touch with the local media might also be a good idea - local councils are very sensitive to this - and you might find interest at the local TV news company. Local councils are not the most popular of institutions, and you could find media interest in your case.
Some people are, understandably, very reluctant to have their private business aired in the papers and on TV. However, we think that the strongest weapon against irresponsible councils at the moment is media exposure, to which they are very sensitive. . There is also always the possibility that readers of the newspaper will then write in to report similar experiences.
It can be productive to help busy newspaper reporters by drafting a punchy, concise article oneself before e-mailing or faxing it to the papers. If you can think of an eye-catching headline, so much the better. Should you contact the media, please let them know about this website and send them our website URL.
Local Government Ombudsman Watch & Public Services Ombudsman Watchers
The Citizen's advice bureau
The Citizens' Advice Bureau might be worth a visit; (links below) they can sometimes be very helpful with getting matters resolved. If you get in touch with your local CAB office, please let them know about our campaign.
Us a public forum to ask others for help and advice
In addition it may be worth contacting your MP link below) and asking them to help.
Dealing with a Public Authority
In our experience, it is better to send written correspondence rather than to telephone. An unprofessional officer can always be economical with the truth if they choose to do so, and dispute any allegation you make with regard to the content of a phone call, which they cannot so easily do when it is a question of written correspondence, of which you have kept a copy. Do not be surprised if the authority claims a letter was never received and implies it was lost in the post; sending mail by recorded delivery will avoid this.
It is also perhaps a very good idea to send a copy of any correspondence to your MP, and to a sympathetic local councillor, if you can find one, so that the particular authority is aware the case is having wider exposure.
Let us know
We very much hope that your situation results in a fair and just outcome.