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Can We Trust the Ombudsman With Our Complaints?

By: Thomas Muller - Updated: 19 May 2018 | comments*Discuss
Ombudsman Complaints Complaining

The local government ombudsmen are supposed to be there to represent the interests of the public but they have been accused of bias and maladministration. Can we really trust them with our complaints?

Watching the Watchmen

If somebody has an unresolved complaint about a local council then the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) is there to investigate whether it is justified, offer independent advice and act as an impartial referee between the two parties.

Or at least that is their appointed role - one group strongly believes that they are allied with the organisation they are assigned to guard and dismissive of those they are paid to protect.

The LGO Watch

The campaign consumer group, Local Government Ombudsman Watch (LGO Watch), has been set up in an effort to weed out bad practise within local English government by exposing the bias and maladministration within the Local Government Ombudsman’s office.

LGO Watch is far from the work of a few disgruntled complainants, even the LGO’s own customer satisfaction survey revealed that a whopping 73% of complainants were dissatisfied by the outcome of their individual cases. Since its founding in 2003, the Watch has amassed a legion of supporters nationwide, and a similar Scottish watch has since been set up to target the corruption in local government north of the border.

Pro-Council Bias Allegations

With less than 2% of submitted complaints declared by the LGO as maladministration, there is a certain weight to the claims that the tax-funded service is not wholly committed to securing justice for the public.

One reason the LGO Watch provides to explain allegations of pro-council bias within the office is the alarming fact that all three current LGOs were themselves previously chief executives of local authorities. In fact evidence shows that many of the LGO’s investigators previously worked in local government.

If you took a damning complaint about the local police force to an independent, publicly-funded investigation and adjudication group, would it be fair to have a former chief of that same organisation handle your case?

Citizen Insurance Support

The LGO Watch is further vindicated in their crusade by the ample correspondence they receive from citizens complaining about the LGO’s bias. Many of these people have suffered anguish and even illness by their experience with the watchdog.

The greatest source of grievance about local councils and the LGO is their unaccountability in dealing with the vulnerable members of society, such as those suffering economic hardship, poor health or substandard living conditions.

Other Watches

The LGO Watch is not alone in their surveillance over the bad practice of the LGO, other websites share their impassioned feelings of injustice and have set out to expose their misdemeanours. These include the LGO Reporter Blog, the Public Service Ombudsman Watches and Trevor R Nunn’s ‘Local Government Ombudsman Watcher’ page, which is dedicated to all those who have “suffered injustice because of the unfair, biased and unaccountable LGO”.

Is There A Solution?

It’s all very well highlighting the failings of the LGO but does the Watch have a realistic solution to the problem?

The LGO Watch calls for the closure of the LGO and its replacement with a genuinely independent local government complaints commission. This new office would not employ anybody with previous influence within the local council. The ideal of the group, and no doubt most of the public at large, would be for councils to have something to fear when people complain to the local government watchdog.

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LBBD are the worst local authority in the UK. I truly cannot understand why the so called LGO refuses to look at my complaint against these abominable people at LBBD. They constantly repeat the same rubbish about exhausting the complaints procedure but how can I do this when the Council will not even answer my letters and phone calls. The Ombudsman refuses to contact these people and ask them to accept my Corporate complaint, so how do I progress my complaint. I suggest,to anyone that thinks complaining to the Ombudsman will be a solution, to think hard and fast before using these biased, ex council directors.
Sonny - 19-May-18 @ 5:14 PM
I have complained to these useless, biased people on 3 separate ocassions and on all 3 complaints, despite overwhelming evidence, they have exonerated the local authorities concerned.This government has also made it impossible to obtain legal aid to take these toerags councils to court, in effect making them beyond the law.My latest complaint against the LBBD would be enough to get someone banged up for 10 years for what they have done to my Wife and myself but they refuse to do anything about them,instead suggesting that I give them more time to make up more lies, and this is after sending piles of evidence that completely contradicts LBBD's version of events and proves beyond any reasonable doubt that they have lied and deceived us for 3 years. LGO, you can forget using these biased collaborators if you are expecting them to find against their mates.
Skudy - 12-May-18 @ 7:21 AM
I am utterly disgusted with the LGO Ombudsman.I sent a whole dossier of evidence for my case (I won't go into details here) which only a very biased person could find wanting.The Council produced nothing except their contention that I was wrong.In fact, the Ombudsman DID find in my favour - only to change when the Council sent them a piece of 'evidence' which was so overwhelming (and I think not!) as to wipe out the whole of my evidence and the months the ombudsmen were supposed to have spent in studying it.What was this evidence?Well I have not been allowed to see it so far and it seems that it was simply a reiteration of their stand-point: the very point that was at dispute.I am actually ashamed of this Body and, although there is no appeal (can you believe it?) I intend to write to the Secretary of State and tell him what I think.
apm - 3-May-18 @ 12:55 PM
To all my local council are diescrematin against me for many years and the local community because someone from west Hythe kent have said im a gypsy I've tried to get help but every door is closed im a true man so this is my word the local council have much power they have told so many lies about me and most of all the storytellers never in my 56 years have i seen such rubbish told about myself i can't find anyone to stand up to the council i cant complain because the council are saying im a consistent complainer so now i cant complain about anything if anyone knows someone that i can contact please let me know you all take care and thank you for your time
Archie - 1-May-18 @ 12:24 PM
The LGO is a TOTAL waste of your time and a TOTAL waste of taxpayers money. Their sole intention is simply to enable you to vent your frustrations and that is it! They are nothing more than a marketing tool for local government and they exercise no powers at all to bring miscreants to task. The staff are in my experience unhelpful, curt and condescending, so save yourself the frustration of dealing with the LGO. It is far better to take your concerns to the local press or local radio as this tends to impact much more on rubbish councils than a mild chastisement from the LGO
Hector - 25-Apr-18 @ 11:00 AM
We have a right to a fit for purpose Local Government Ombudsman Service.The previous watch dog group has obviously put a lot of work into this in the past.The LGO is getting worse not better.If anyone knows how I can get in contact with any of the people involved in the original Watch dog groupplease let me know.If we don't fight for our rights we have only ourselves to blame.So we either put up and shut up or say no we want justice. 2.01) LGO Watch was founded in 2003 by Gary Powell and Public Service Ombudsman Watchers in 2006 by Trevor R Nunn. LGO Watch was originally set up as a campaigning website whilst Public Service Ombudsman Watchers was set up to expose Public Service Ombudsmen to public scrutiny. They were merged in 2009 but due to other commitments the original objective of LGO Watch was changed to one of helping others campaign rather than initiating and coordinating campaigns ourselves.
Margaret - 21-Apr-18 @ 12:26 PM
The ombudsman is as corrupt as hell don’t wasteyour timeA corrupt government make a criminal immune from remorse!!!!
Burning - 20-Apr-18 @ 11:23 PM
As far as I can see LGO watch is no longer about, this is a much needed watchdog as the LGO are undoubtedly biased does anyone know what happened to them or how they can be contacted?if they have disbanded now as they seems to be around a few years ago how can we start up a similar group?
Margaret - 19-Apr-18 @ 10:58 AM
I had problems with ASB associated with a Miners welfare. The council were abusive and aggressive they came round to the house and threatened me. Apparently it was my fault for living where I do and that I should expect it! They destroyed evidence of complaints from the residents and made out I was the only one to conplain. They also ignored planning rules and granted them a club licence even though they were not compliant with the law. The LGOs response was that they had done something on the grounds that they had written to me refusing to do anything. Chris Upjohn from the LGO said that they don’t have to follow Acts of Parliament over a year old. Complete rubbish but I received a nasty email from his team leader M Abrams stating his conduct was acceptable and they were supporting the council. I have collated evidence and reported the council for misconduct in a public office and they are under investigation, this is on account of their wilful disregard for the law. I am also in a position to report these individuals from the LGO for the same crime wilful disregard regard of the licensing laws. Who do I report criminal activity of the LGO, ie which police force and should I wait until the criminal investigation at the council has been completed.
Fiona - 6-Apr-18 @ 8:49 AM
I have a problem with an electricity “supplier” who has left tenants short of electricity on their top up meter. The supplier has gone on holiday without informing the tenents so cannot switch on the electric radiators. Also this supplier is charging more than double the retail price of the electricity. I am a landlord and I have spoken to the following organisations on their behalf: the energy ombudsmen, consumer citizens advice & trading standards. All off them ,without exception, said they could not help as we are not receiving electricity from a main supplier but from a sub-meter. It was recommended we contact a solicitor but it’s difficult to find one who specialises in this complicated matter. I then spoke to a number of local councillors, informing them that the tenant was desperate and asked for help. This resulted in a threat of me being served with an Emergency Prohibition Order within 24 hours. Had the tenants agreed to this they would been vacated the following day and moved into emergency council accommodation in a different city. It’s really unfair that these organisations will not or cannot intervene. What a waste of money and time contacting them
Bilbo - 5-Mar-18 @ 1:47 AM
I have had antisocial behaviour for more than 4 years with my neighbour, endless complaints to the Sheffield city council, waste of space retards all they say is fill in diary sheets, go se the problem neighbour but it's carried on, started off with loud noise constantly , then for the last year I've got him drug dealing, idiots coming all hours off the day and night buying drugs, loud parties several times a week, ( his hitting 60 years )still loud noise and the council just ignore me, I have been to the ombudsman for housing and they are absolutely useless , so best for me is to give up the flat I have made nice in a good area for the sake of my health which has gotten worse , I don't know why there's a antisocial team or housing ombudsman when they don't give a s... about people trying to live in peace.
Jc - 13-Feb-18 @ 9:26 PM
I went to the LGO after Dartford Borough Council offered me an antisocial neighbour as a solution to get me away from my antisocial neighbour. My current neighbour is an alcoholic, plays loud music, has been physically threatening, verbally aggressive (called derogative names aimed at my gender), bashed on my windows throughout the night to keep me awake (list goes on), he'd then left his property for nearly 3 years, which my neighbours and I reported to tgem as tenancy fraud (not using yourproperty as your permanent address) as this was allowing the cycle of antisocisl behaviour to continue, they offered me instead as a solution a property next to a mentally ill lady, who'd assaulted her neighbour on many occasions, she actually stood in the back garden waiting for her to come home, paraded round naked, accused her neighbour of molesting her and her cats, accused her husband of rape, was verbally abusive to ALL the neighbours and said lewd and disgusting things to children, she too hadn't been living at her property for a year and a half at the time I viewed it, after she'd been sectioned, but was still tge named tenant and could return anytime. The Housing Officer was completely unwilling to answer any questions regarding the neighbour and so I had to turn down the offer. The neighbours gave me all the evudence I needed to support my appeal of an inappropriate offer, but DBC refuted this and left me in my situation with the neighbour I have. This went to the LGO, Claire Mead who made a draft decision without ANY evidence from me which is standard practice. Her arguement was that the situation had been resolved at the time of my viewing and the evidence to support this was that the New tenant who'd took the property offered to me had made no complaints about the neighbour. So I went back and gained more evidence from the neighbours there including the new tenant who wrote a statement stating that the only reason they'd been no complaints from her was because the antisocial neighbour had never lived in her property since she moved in, (this made the LGO evidence null and void, evudence from the very person she'd been relying on as 'proof').Other neighbours wrote that the neighbour had no lived at the address since she'd been sectioned which was now 21/2 years. So the tenancy I'd been offered there mirrored mine here both antisocial neighbours were causing problems then leaving for years, hence DBC were using breaches in their own tenancy agreement to end antisocial behaviour cases. The tenant comes back causes problems, leaves and after 3 months the council close the ASB case, only to open a NEW one when they return.I then received a letter from Dartford Borough Council informing me that the LGO had not found any fault but as a "good will gesture" were going to put me on the bidding list for 12 months and then make one final offer. 2 days later I received a final decision back from the LGOmbudsman, dated later than DBC letter stating
Titch - 1-Feb-18 @ 1:36 PM
LGO removed their address from their website. If any one on here wants to post documents to LGO by post, their postal address is: Local Government Ombudsman PO Box 4771 Coventry CV4 0EH
Mr Back - 13-Jan-18 @ 3:21 PM
We need ask Parliament to debate about how Local Authorities are not accountable for their wrong doing. Examples are:- Bijan Ebrahimi got murderedand nobody at Bristol Council was accountable. Rotherham child sexual abuse no one at fault at council. Grenfell tower fire, no one at the council was charged. The executive resigned but he would find job at another council? Many other councils, (Rugby Borough Council, North East Lincolnshire Council etc)give planning permission to build houses with lies, deliberate factual errors and misleading information. See Rotten Council Twitter
Mr Back - 27-Dec-17 @ 1:26 PM
Despair - Your Question:
I'm having problems with my housing association (Home Group). Anti social behaviour is making my life a misery.I report the problems to their own special anti social team or my housing officer only for them to be logged and quietly buried.I thought about the housing ombudsman but it seems like this will be a waste of time too. Housing associations are a national scandal.I wonder if this is all deliberate government policy - to make social housing as uncomfortable as possible so as to make private renting more attractive.

Our Response:
You can also report anti-social behaviour via the link here . Much depends upon what the anti-social behaviour is and whether it comes under the housing association remit.
ComplaintExpert - 14-Dec-17 @ 10:04 AM
I'm having problems with my housing association (Home Group). Anti social behaviour is making my life a misery. I report the problems to their own special anti social team or my housing officer only for them to be logged and quietly buried. I thought about the housing ombudsman but it seems like this will be a waste of time too.Housing associations are a national scandal. I wonder if this is all deliberate government policy - to make social housing as uncomfortable as possible so as to make private renting more attractive...
Despair - 13-Dec-17 @ 10:50 AM
I'm in exactly the same position as Mungo. Access to care problems. Fault found in draft letter but no injustice. I don't know how these definitions are made but if care was wrongly removed (fault) surely there's an injustice? What disabled people suffer - not being understood, believed, all whilst unwell, is outrageous. And all this country does is take away from them.
Downy - 6-Dec-17 @ 9:55 AM
LESLEY - 6-Dec-17 @ 8:54 AM
The paradox is if you have suffered injustice at the hands of the council you know by going to the LGO you are only going to further compound that injustice and create more misery and psychological harm to yourself but what do you do? They are only option if you don't have money to access legal help. Been to LGO about 10 times now over as many years. Same issue. Keeps snowballing. Access to social care. Keeps making me re complain and wait two years each time for Ombudsman to conclude in favour of council EVEN when they admit there has been wrongdoing. Make me submit separate te applications to PHSO and LGO only for it to be 'joint investigation' and LGO end up dealing with it and finding in favour of council. Left disabled with no social care and caused mental illness. Life ruined.
Mungo at the Crossro - 4-Dec-17 @ 3:28 AM
I got email from LGO today sayingthey did not find the council at faults. UK local councils can get away with corruptions and they are not accountable for their maladministration. I feel like I am living in a third world country.
Mr Back - 24-Nov-17 @ 6:15 PM
The LGO Watch doesn't exist any more, they did however manage to put their concerns to a Parliamentary Committee but no real change has taken place. Sadly it's pointless complaining to the bias LGO and you can see how Councils get away with some much corruption given that those who are supposed to oversee them are equally corrupt. The result is peoples compliants being ignored and incidents such as the Grenfell Fire Disaster occurring along with biased public inquires. The LGO just demonstrates how corrupt and disgusting this country really is.
Coventry Sucks!!! - 8-Nov-17 @ 1:45 PM
Can I have an email address for LGO Watch to cc against the challenge I'm about to send to LGO's draft decision. I'd like to say I'm shocked to realise that if LGO advises an LA should investigate and the LA refuses then the LGO is happy to make do with what it has.But I've slowly realised over the past 2 years that if LAs refuse to look into anything then there will be no information to review and our Local Authorities can get away with what they like. I didn't realise LGO had no legal qualifications (just looked at the Job Description). My eyes have opened to the reality of the society we are really living in.Micky Mouse state?
Jop - 5-Nov-17 @ 12:51 AM
PS - I also gave Northumbria Police a number of documents, when they visited us including some relating to the council and LGO
Coventry Stinks!!!! - 25-Oct-17 @ 7:20 PM
The LGO just write nonsense, and they don't care if that nonesense is the truth or even legal. Mick King the actual Local Government Ombudsman used to work at Northumberland County Council. Northumbria Police have just launched an investgation in to the finances and governance of Northumberland County Council according to media reports. So that speaks volumes.
Coventry Stinks!!!! - 25-Oct-17 @ 6:51 PM
LGO takes minimum 20 working days to decide whether your case is worth investigating. If it is worth investigating then you get an email/letter saying LGO is passing your case to investigating teams. Then you wait another 10-15 working days toreceive another email/letter which saying an investigator is appointed and mentioning that you need to wait some more weeks for investigator's finding etc etc.
TT - 20-Oct-17 @ 7:38 PM
Disturbed to read what is posted here. I have submitted a complaint to LGO and wonder how long they take before they decide to investigate it or not? I note pages of criteria which have to be met before LGO will investigate - not either/or criteria but also/and criteria. Pages and pages. Complaint is against Stockport MBC planning and an unsafe grant of planning permission. Record of such complaints (as shown on LGO website) is 0/13 where 0 is the legitimate needs of the people and 13 the jack boot of the fascist state as wielded by the LGO. So I have little chance of LGO finding in my favour. I do have positive things to say about ombudsmen - I used FOS once and was awarded £122,000. Rock n' roll. But I now understand why the lying Stockport MBC were goading me to use LGO. Stockport MBC, through online record, can lie with impunity, because LGO have always supported them. And within minutes I found LGO on-line decision that was clearly officious, high-handed, arrogant and wrong. But I suspect if I take the lot of them to court I would lose because Judiciary are all part of the same cabal. My argument is that the people have reasonable expectation for planning applications to be determined correctly, according to planning guidelines, rules, and procedures, which obviously alter from time to time. I reckoned that I had got Stockport MBC banged to rights - until I read all the sad stories on here about the LGO. I wonder if anyone can advise how long it is likely to take LGO to contact me with an indication as to whether LGO will investigate or not?
tmbrian - 13-Oct-17 @ 6:26 PM
The LGO are something you would expect in a third world country, they are an absoloute disgrace and Parliament should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this organisation to continue to pervert the course of justice. Still at least I don't live near or work in Coventry.
Coventry Sucks!!!! - 10-Oct-17 @ 8:45 PM
Single bereaved father child with special needs. Was on benifits for 2 years. Council never paid my council tax. Entitled. Every time I paid a backdated Vil they produced another backdated bill. Constantly paying off my debts. They sent bailiffs.difnt show up. Paid off debts through bailiffs. Then council produce yet another paid bill. Went through the complaints tiers. Council kept lying and changing facts. Moving payments. All covered under the ombudsman code of practice. I offered to send all my evidence he said it wasn't needed. In his decision letter he agreed whole heartedly with the council. It's yet another governmental body unregulated like and enigma in a riddle. In my response I noted that the councils final decision was almost identical to the lgo. Uh huh what a surprise. Shameful thing is no one really cares
JasperC - 25-Sep-17 @ 11:56 AM
My husbsnd died while lgo gave even more time to LA social services to reasses his mental healrh needs due permanent brain damage. Not even response from them. Inquest January.
Widowed - 15-Sep-17 @ 5:45 PM
Ridiculous is all I have to say about LGO. They are not authorised to judge individual council employees under the Local Govt Act 1974. Hence maladministration is near impossible to prove. They cannot comment on any complaints if court process was involved, hence councils run around with impunity if they summons you. Its astonishing.People need to consolidate and there needs tobe a link here for LGO WATCH
Forest Gate - 25-Aug-17 @ 11:01 PM
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