“Listen to the voice of the public to aid scrutiny” says Ombudsman

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has responded to a report on the effectiveness of local government overview and scrutiny.

The Communities and Local Government Select Committee report has warned about scrutiny being marginalised in some authorities and called for a positive culture in local government to welcome constructive challenge.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:

“I welcome the committee’s report, and particularly its call for closer links with service users to support the work of scrutiny committees.

“Looking at complaints is a valuable way to listen to the voice of the public. The best councils openly welcome this free feedback from people with first-hand experience of their services. Our published investigations and complaints data can be a real help for scrutiny committees to understand the user perspective and know where services may not be working as well as they could.

“I also support the report’s view that scrutiny committees must be able to follow the council pound and oversee all taxpayer-funded services. This mirrors examples we have seen with blurred accountability as public services are increasingly outsourced or delivered through complex partnerships. We are clear with councils that they can outsource their services, but not the responsibility for them.

“The committee also points out the importance of combined authorities building scrutiny arrangements into their set-up. I would add that the design of a complaints system must also be considered at the outset when combined authorities are formed.”

The Ombudsman provides a host of information to help local authority scrutiny committees – complaints data, decision statements, public interest reports, focus reports and scrutiny questions.

It also provides a range of newsletters to keep up-to-date with the latest developments.

Article date: 15 December 2017