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Information for Link Officers

The role of the Link Officer

Every authority should appoint a ‘link officer’ who acts as a single point of contact for Ombudsman enquiries and casework. It is up to each authority who acts as its link officer. If that person is unable to fulfil the role for any reason (e.g annual leave) there should be others who can easily step into the role.

Authorities can have up to two link officers. However, we do not have the facility to send different types of enquiry to different officers. If an authority selects two link officers, both will receive all correspondence. It is then for each authority to determine how best to allocate and respond to our enquiries.

In our experience the following works well:

  • Use a generic email inbox that others can access if a link officer is absent, such as ‘ombudsman@council.org.uk’
  • A link officer should have access to the authority’s complaint handling information so they can easily see if an authority has considered a complaint.
  • A link officer should have sufficient status in the authority to be able to obtain a response to the Ombudsman’s enquiries within the necessary timescale and ensure any Ombudsman recommendations are acted on.
  • If the authority has a separate complaints team it is best practice for the link officer to be part of that team. That way they can have oversight of a complaint from when it comes to the authority to when the Ombudsman issues a final decision on the complaint.

It is vital the link officer involves the right people at the right time. This helps with timely and pro-active responses to Ombudsman enquiries, draft decisions, and recommendations.