What is ‘The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales?
The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales has the legal powers to investigate complaints about public services and independent care providers in Wales. This includes Housing Associations and Council Housing. He is independent of all government bodies. The service he provides is impartial and free of charge.
As you may have noticed, The Ombudsman is usually referred to ‘he’ or ‘she’ in the singular person. Currently its a ‘he’ as Nick Bennett is the actual Ombudsman. However, he’s ably supported by an experienced team of investigators and therefore at TPAS Cymru we prefer to describe the Ombudsman as an organisation and use ‘them’, ‘they’ etc
The Ombudsman produces a quarterly report on the cases that they have investigated and publish the outcomes (called the Casebook). Outcomes are usually in 3 categories – rejected, early settlement or upheld.
Housing is sometimes the 2nd largest area of complaints and covers tenants in local authority (Council) homes and those in Registered Housing Associations. It does not cover those who are renting in the private sector. There are also many other non-housing categories that impact tenants like Allotments, Care, Planning etc.
Their judgments can have wide-reaching impact. For example, because of an individual complaint about service charges, the landlord had to refund 50+ other people as a result of their judgment. Many other tenants across Wales would unknowingly also have benefited as other landlords implemented the ruling.
They also do important thematic reviews on areas they see regular complaints i.e. a detailed look at a specific area and producing guidance and training for that area of public life so that they can improve.
TPAS Cymru sits on an advisory group to assist the Ombudsman to improve their accessibility and accountability to the public. We have been impressed with their willingness to listen and implement the thoughts of the Advisory Group on how the service can be improved.
For more on the Ombudsman and how to access this important service, please visit their current website.
Note: their website is going to have a much-needed upgrade. Look out for an improved version in spring 2018, where it will be easier to look at past cases based on local area, individual housing associations or Councils or certain themes.
To access the latest casebook and the thoughts of TPAS Cymru Director, why not click on this link
The Welsh Assembly currently has a bill before it on whether to give the Ombudsman more powers (TPAS believes its needed) . There is a summary of theses extra powers here: https://spark.adobe.com/page/2QDDk/