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Local Government Complaints

By: Thomas Muller - Updated: 31 Jul 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Local Government Ombudsman Local

The day-to-day lives of everybody are affected by the actions of local government, and so it is therefore important that any problems with its operation are acknowledged and resolved satisfactorily.

Maladministration

A major complaint within local government operation is maladministration. This is defined as the something the council has done wrong, or not done at all, that has adversely affected a member of the public. This could include a failure to reply, unsatisfactory record keeping, delay, failure to supply information or misleading or false statements.

This bad practice by councils succeeds only in harming the community they are elected to serve and tarnishing the reputation of the government as a whole. It is therefore imperative that complaints about local government maladministration are filed and pursued to a resolution.

Where Should a Complaint Be Made?

Complaints should firstly be directed to the local office responsible for the service highlighted. For instance, this could be a local housing office, a school, social services office or local authority centre.

Alternatively if the complaint is about a serious breach that cannot be resolved at ground level, then it can be taken directly to the complaints officer at the head office of the appropriate service.

Complaints can also usually be submitted online at the local authority website.

Who is at Fault?

Many complaints are resolved satisfactorily at a local level, however in recent years there have been an alarming number of cases where a complainant is made to feel that they are in fact at fault, despite strong evidence and arguments proving the council officers were in the wrong.

The Next Rung up the Complaint Ladder

If the local council fails to provide a satisfactory resolution to a complaint or even acknowledge any claims of maladministration, then complainants can always move up a step and let an independent and impartial observer uncover the truth.

But how fair and unbiased really is the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) in investigating complaints? There are many people within the UK that are wholly unconvinced by the adjudication of the LGO.

The Impartial Watchdog?

Recent years have seen a whirlwind of controversy surround the Local Government Ombudsman institution and its supposed impartially. The Ombudsman Watch, Public Service Ombudsman Watchers and LGO Watcher are a few of websites set up to expose how biased the LGO is in favour of the local councils it is supposed to investigate objectively, and in with the funding of the taxpayer.

Amongst the sizable evidence supporting these claims, the site draws attention to the disturbing fact that all three current Local Government Ombudsmen were themselves previously chief executive officers of local authorities. In addition to this, a large number of the LGO’s investigators have also worked in local government prior to their appointment.

Statistics also show that in all the complaints submitted to the watchdog, on average less than 2% are deemed to have justified claims of maladministration, a figure dramatically lower than the real level of ‘bad practice’ believed to occur in local government.

Sectors of Decency

Although there is ample evidence to suggest that the dismissive treatment a great number of complaints about local governments receive is unjust and unacceptable, this is not to say that there are not local authorities that uphold their responsibilities and act in a decent and conscientious manner.

Always Speak Out

Either way it is always worth making a complaint. Regardless of reports of malpractice, the public should keep the system working by speaking out when something is wrong, however frustrating it may be to find a resolution. Everybody makes mistakes, but as long as there is a readiness to acknowledge them and take action, then matters can move forward.

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Topcatsecretary - Your Question:
Took a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman recently - too long & complicated to go into all the detail on here but basically involves our local County Council trying to pursue me for a debt run up my husband's stepfather who died over 2years ago penniless with not even enough life insurance to pay for his funeral but prior to his death we held a joint Power of Attorney for - they state I signed a Deed of Guarantor document making me responsible for the debt - a document I can categorically say I did not sign & had never seen until I took the matter to the Ombudsman.I first raised a complaint about maladministration with the Councils own Complaints Team in 2016 which was never dealt with - when pursued they then claimed they had issued a final decision letter (which if they had they never sent to me) - I took the matter to the Ombudsman in 2017 & was told I had taken it to them to early (!!!!) and they referred it back to the Council to respond in full to my original complaint which included my questioning how the Deed of Guarantor came into being as I did not sign it!!!!I was told by the LGO office that if I was unsatisfied with the response from the County Council I could take my complaint back to them & they would take into account any delays by the County Council.I finally received a response from the County Council in March 2018 (5 months after the LGO referred the matter back to them) they left many of my original issues unanswered including how the Deed of Guarantor came into being).I took the matter back to the LGO waited weeks to be allocated an Investigating Officer who then in a matter of a few days deemed I had left it too late to refer my complaint to the LGO & declined to investigate any of my original complaints of maladministration & deemed that the Council were completely justified in pursuing me for the debt as they have a document signed by me making me liable for the debt - you tell me how that is an independent service!!!! And how can one LGO officer say I'd taken my complaint to them too early & refer it back to the County Council concerned & then another say I'd left it too late. I spoke to the investigation officer on the phone & she was rude, talked down to me as if I was trash & basically said I should find the £11,000 & pay up it wasn't for her to decide if the Council had acted in any way inappropriately regarding how my signature ended up on the Deed of Guarantor!!!!!!!Where do I go from here - the County Council are now threatening me with Court Action!!!!

Our Response:
You would have to seek professional legal advice regarding this matter, as it is likely you would have to dispute this through the courts.
ComplaintExpert - 2-Aug-18 @ 2:44 PM
Took a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman recently - too long & complicated to go into all the detail on here but basically involves our local County Council trying to pursue me for a debt run up my husband's stepfather who died over 2years ago penniless with not even enough life insurance to pay for his funeral but prior to his death we held a joint Power of Attorney for - they state I signed a Deed of Guarantor document making me responsible for the debt - a document I can categorically say I did not sign & had never seen until I took the matter to the Ombudsman. I first raised a complaint about maladministration with the Councils own Complaints Team in 2016 which was never dealt with - when pursued they then claimed they had issued a final decision letter (which if they had they never sent to me) - I took the matter to the Ombudsman in 2017 & was told I had taken it to them to early (!!!!) and they referred it back to the Council to respond in full to my original complaint which included my questioning how the Deed of Guarantor came into being as I did not sign it!!!! I was told by the LGO office that if I was unsatisfied with the response from the County Council I could take my complaint back to them & they would take into account any delays by the County Council. I finally received a response from the County Council in March 2018 (5 months after the LGO referred the matter back to them) they left many of my original issues unanswered including how the Deed of Guarantor came into being). I took the matter back to the LGO waited weeks to be allocated an Investigating Officer who then in a matter of a few days deemed I had left it too late to refer my complaint to the LGO & declined to investigate any of my original complaints of maladministration & deemed that the Council were completely justified in pursuing me for the debt as they have a document signed by me making me liable for the debt - you tell me how that is an independent service!!!! And how can one LGO officer say I'd taken my complaint to them too early & refer it back to the County Council concerned & then another say I'd left it too late.I spoke to the investigation officer on the phone & she was rude, talked down to me as if I was trash & basically said I should find the £11,000 & pay up it wasn't for her to decide if the Council had acted in any way inappropriately regarding how my signature ended up on the Deed of Guarantor!!!!!!! Where do I go from here - the County Council are now threatening me with Court Action!!!!
Topcatsecretary - 31-Jul-18 @ 7:10 PM
Search on the internet for "can we trust the LGO" for up to date comments
Help - 15-Jun-18 @ 1:44 PM
Do petition to get rid of LGO on government website?
Mr Back - 27-Dec-17 @ 12:26 PM
I got email from LGO saying they did not find the council at faults. However the local had admitted their multiple errors caused damagein writing to me. 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. can anybody adviceme how to do
PAB - 21-Dec-17 @ 6:23 AM
I have made a complaint through the 3 stages against erewash council. After refusing to pay housing benefit on grounds of no legal tenancy, i took over on a sublet, verbal agreement and agreed to take the tenancy over once lease had ran out, with estate agent. We did this as we were being harassed and verbally attacked by our subsequent landlord, who made threats due to arrears on rent due to council payments. We were evicted, advised one wk prior, with no set dates and no confirmation of re-housing. Two days before eviction, i was told the locks would be changed, emergancy housing was not available and had to arrange removal and storage, no assistance, financially or with storage. We had no choice but to leave items, my belongings in a friends garden. I appealed the benefits decision, it was overturned as i had submitted required info. The council are refusing oweness of my damaged and lost items, as i was never contacted to collect. MALADMINISTRATION. surely? LGO to investigate..
Complainingispaining - 19-Jul-17 @ 10:57 AM
@IneptLGO - I think you have only one option and that is to move. Such is the 24/7 life we lead now. Friend of mine lives in London on a busy road and behind a railway track, it is impossible to sleep now everyone goes to bed later and gets up earlier. His apartment shakes with the noise of the traffic, it's like trying to sleep through an earthquake!
JY - 8-May-17 @ 11:58 AM
LGO late and not completed FOIR- says it has notes of meetings- none happened!Same phone calls.So decides to trigger my review- without the evidence I await.Autocratic disregard of law.Cumbria Council , LGO agree has no Members Interests displayed, No way to contact Police Panel, which scrutinises the Police and not operating the 2011 standards statute.BUT that's no maldministration! Poppi Worthington died and Cumbria Police lost all the evidence- and the scrutiny system does not exist there. LGO should protect the public not hide the evidence of its own and others wrongdoing.
honest - 8-May-17 @ 11:09 AM
I've been suffering sleep deprivation because the asda superstore on the ground floor of my building produces noise that does not allow me to sleep. Complained to the council who repeatedly instructed asda to remove noisy equipment to no avail. Escalated to the ombudsman who even after the report of the council identifies loud noises sufficient to disturb sleep say that they found no fault in the council's dealings. I don't know what else to do.
IneptLGO - 7-May-17 @ 10:51 AM
42 years irreparable emotional psychological physical damage by dudley council 2 years trying to get lgo to investigate them seems like ombudsman just go out of their way not to investigate them
Profe - 6-May-17 @ 6:11 AM
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