Mark Whitehead 31 May 2019

Ombudsman welcomes move to streamline complaints

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has welcomed a decision by the trade body representing bailiffs to give up dealing with complaints from members of the public.

The Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA) said all complaints involving enforcement agents employed by local authorities, usually over council tax arrears and parking fines, would now go to the ombudsman.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman Michael King said his office already provided independent redress for complaints. '

We support any efforts to streamline the current process to ensure complaints are responded to in a timely manner, so we welcome CIVEA’s intention to stop adjudicating complaints on behalf of its members.'

CIVEA chief executive Russell Hamblin-Boone said: 'These changes will streamline the process for complaints redress.

'The expertise and independent adjudication of the ombudsman gives an impartial picture of the scale of any problems in our industry.'

Mr King added: 'Where a firm is acting on behalf of a local authority, their actions fall within our jurisdiction.

'Clear routes of redress are all the more important for people who want to raise concerns about debt issues they are facing, so we strongly believe complaints processes should be accessible, easy to understand and simple to use.

'We expect local authorities to ensure they have a clear process for dealing with complaints when they contract services out to enforcement firms, as we would with any commissioned service.

'It’s important this system is not protracted, does not require people to go through multiple complaints processes and also ensures there is appropriate signposting – including to our service – if a person remains dissatisfied with the outcome of their complaint.'

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