The Ombudsmen

Published: 18/09/2015

With the impending launch of the new Consumer Ombudsman Everyday Legal is taking a look at some of the other ombudsmen, operating in a number of different areas, that fight for the rights of consumers giving you even more ‘power to your elbow’ when you need to complain.

What does an Ombudsman do?

Ombudsmen investigate and resolve disputes for consumers in the UK (covering England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). They deal with complaints about public services and some privately delivered services – mainly in regulated areas.

Public Sector Ombudsmen

  • The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman – complaints about UK government departments and NHS England
  • The Local Government Ombudsman for England – complaints about local authority departments and agencies in England
  • Housing Ombudsman – complaints by tenants about registered social housing landlords in England, private landlords who have joined the scheme and local authority housing complaints.
  • Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education – complaints from students about universities in England and Wales.
  • Scottish Public Services Ombudsman – for complaints about national departments devolved to Scotland including the NHS, prisons, universities, local authority departments and agencies.
  • Public Services Ombudsman for Wales - for complaints about national departments devolved to Wales including the NHS, local authority departments and agencies.
  • Northern Ireland Ombudsman - for complaints about national departments devolved to Northern Ireland, local councils, education and library boards, providers of Health and Social Care Services and prison health care.

Private Sector Ombudsmen

  • Financial Ombudsman Service – for complaints about financial services providers such as banks, building societies and insurers.
  • Ombudsman Services – helps consumers with a range of gripes including those about energy providers and communications companies. The service also handles complaints about some double glazing companies and removal companies who participate on a voluntary basis. Any complaints about the Green Deal that a provider is unable or unwilling to help on will also be taken up by Ombudsman Services along with complaints against members of the Asset Based Finance Association who provide factoring, invoice discounting and asset based lending services to small businesses.
  • The Property Ombudsman – deals with complaints against property management companies, letting agents and estate agents.
  • Pension Ombudsman – deals with complaints about occupational pension providers.
  • Legal Ombudsman – deals with complaints about law firms.
  • Furniture Ombudsman – deals with complaints against furniture suppliers who participate on a voluntary basis.

A new aviation ombudsman is currently seeking approval from the Civil Aviation Authority.

Complaining to an Ombudsman

In most cases you must have complained to the organisation first and given them the opportunity to resolve your complaint before complaining to an Ombudsman. If the Ombudsman finds your complaint is justified they will recommend to the organisation they action they should take to put things right and whilst they can’t force the organisation to take that action most organisations do take on board the Ombudsman’s recommendations.

The procedure for taking up a complaint with an ombudsman varies. Usually you’ll need to supply them with the following information:

  • The name and address of the complainant
  • The name and address of the organisation which is the subject of the complaint
  • Full details of the complaint including the date when your complaint originated
  • Details of what’s happened with your complaint so far
  • What loss or hardship was suffered
  • What you want the organisation to do to remedy your complaint

What the ombudsman recommends varies but in general it can include: an apology, recommendations about a change to processes, financial compensation or repayment of money due.

Content correct at time of publication

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