Councils have been urged by the local government ombudsman to keep a ‘robust oversight’ of external contractors to ensure accountability is not lost.
Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, Michael King, has warned that the ‘golden thread’ of accountability is often broken in outsourced council services.
Giving evidence to the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Mr King said he was dealing with increasing numbers of complaints about outsourced services.
‘The law is clear: councils can outsource their services, but not the responsibility for them,’ he said. ‘Councils need to keep robust oversight of any organisations they contract with and have clear arrangements in place for how complaints will be dealt with.
‘We also see cases where it is unclear who is responsible for putting things right and people's ability to complain to us is masked, because of the complexity of the service provision arrangements.
‘Councils with well-thought out arrangements will hardwire learning from mistakes and public feedback into their contracts with their providers.’