Ombudsman responds to Committee report on ethical standards

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has welcomed the Committee on Standards in Public Life's report on Local Government Ethical Standards.

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

“We welcome today’s report and support its call for a greater degree of transparency and independent oversight of a strengthened framework for local government ethical standards, particularly in circumstances where it has not been possible to resolve issues at a local level.

“Currently, our role in investigating councillor conduct complaints involves considering how a council has dealt with such complaints. Although we recognise that many complaints are rightly and successfully resolved locally, we have seen some instances of councils unreasonably delaying taking action, failing to take into account relevant information in reaching a decision, or where councils have not had proper procedures in place.

“As the committee has recognised, we have more than 40 years’ experience of investigating most complaints about local authorities and our oversight of the sector as a whole puts us in an ideal position to ensure such independent scrutiny. This possible extension to our role would not only complement our existing work but also help ensure such complaints are dealt with in a proportionate way.

 “Should a decision be made to create a route for councillors who have had a sanction imposed against them to appeal to the Ombudsman, we stand ready to work with the Committee and Government to determine how this might be achieved in practice.”

Article date: 30 January 2019