Public have no chance
|Council always wins
Waste of public funding
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Campaigning for a more accountable & effective Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman 2007 Customer (dis) satisfaction report
In 2007/2008 the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman commissioned ORC International
to perform a customer satisfaction survey of the members of the public who had their
complaints "investigated" by the SPSO in 2007.
In February 2008, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) published their 2007 customer
satisfaction survey which supports everything the Scottish Ombudsman Watch site has
Use this link to download a copy of the ORC International report titled “Scottish Public Services
Ombudsman Complaint Satisfaction Survey 2007” dated February 2008 link.
This official SPSO report clearly demonstrates the failings of the
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman service and the levels of
DISSATISFACTION of the public who use this publicly funded service.
For complainants who had their complaint rejected at the “enquiry” stage (page 22):
60% were dissatisfied with the “explanation given for the complaint not being taken to the
formal investigation stage”
58% were dissatisfied with the “level of understanding/empathy shown concerning their
For complainants who had their complaint “formally investigated” (page 27):
50% were dissatisfied with the “Thoroughness of the investigation”
51% were dissatisfied with the “time taken to complete the investigation”
47% were dissatisfied with the “independence/impartiality of complaints investigator
The satisfaction levels for the “final report” were (page 32):
56% were dissatisfied with the “redress/recommendations provided (if any)
53% were dissatisfied with the “explanation given for decision made”
48% were dissatisfied with the “impartiality/objectivity of the investigation process”
45% were dissatisfied with the “thoroughness of the report”.
A total of 62% of the respondents felt the SPSO had not met their original expectations
survey acknowledged this issue and states that “46% of those first registering a complaint with the SPSO in
2004/2005 did not receive an outcome until 2007” (page1).
In my experience the SPSO gives the impression they are investigating your complaint when in fact they are only
treating it as an enquiry. The survey showed that 35% of respondents were not able to identify when the outcome of
their complaint was reached. “This suggests that perhaps complainants were not always clear of when their
case had officially been closed by the SPSO”. In my case the SPSO appeared to investigated my complaint over a 3
year period and it was only at the end of the 3 year period when I made a Freedom of Information request for my case
notes that I found out, in an internal memo, that the SPSO had treated my complaint as an “enquiry” even although it had
been investigated firstly by a Complaints Officer, reviewed by a Complaints Manager and finally reviewed by the Deputy
If a complaint is treated as an “enquiry” and not “formally investigated” then it means that no report on the complaint will be
produced and the complaint will not be reported to Parliament which means that there is no means for the Public or
Members of the Scottish Parliament to question the SPSO’s decisions.
The most damming section in the report is where the respondents were asked to comment about “what areas
work well or need to be improved”.
81% of the respondent’s comments fell into the following categories (pages 40/41):
1. Excessive time taken to deal with complaint
2. SPSO did not investigate properly / look into fully
3. Total disgrace / would never use again / complete waste of time / incompetent
4. Investigation was biased / public have no chance / never on complainants side
5. SPSO was no help / not interested / favoured the Council / there to fool the public
6. Very poor service / service badly structured
7. Staff not knowledgeable / unqualified
8. Stop avoiding / ignoring complaints / questions / issues
9. Nothing happened / no outcome / still no explanation
10. Waste of public funding
11. SPSO did nothing / did not take on the case
12. Complaints not dealt with / unfairly dealt with
13. Very poor / weak reasons for not investigating / dismissed without adequate
14. SPSO afraid to deal with Council / will not take on Council / Council always wins
15. Not helpful / unhelpful / no support given
16. Investigation poor / fragmented / spasmodic
17. Decision based on Council’s say
18. SPSO exists only as a pretence / there is no complaint rights
The above comments were published by the SPSO and show how the public view their service.
The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman’s own official report is now saying what the www.ScottishOmbudsmanWatch.
org web site has been saying for the last two years.
The way the SPSO is handling the public’s complaints is a national disgrace.
It is hoped that eventually the public’s complaints about the way the SPSO is protecting the authorities from valid and
irrefutable complaints of maladministration will increase to a level where they are recognised by the people and
organisations that have the responsibility for managing the SPSO (Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliamentary Corporate
body, Finance Committee, Public Petitions Committee ref PE1076) and action taken to improve accountability and
effectiveness of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.
With all the evidence that now exists to show how badly the public are being served by the Scottish Public Services
Ombudsman, it would now be an appropriate time for the Scottish Parliament to ask Audit Scotland to perform an
"economy, efficiency and effectiveness” audit of the SPSO to identify what has gone wrong with this publicly funded body.
This action was identified by Rhoda Grant MSP at the 4th December 2007 meeting to consider public petition PE1076
but unfortunately was not followed up the Scottish Parliament Public Petitions Committee.
Mr Hamilton raised an e -petition urging the Scottish Parliament to ask Audit Scotland to perform an effectiveness audit of
the Scottish Ombudsman. Petition PE1163 was reviewed by the petitions Committee on the 10th June 2008 and agreed
to contact the Scottish Parliament, Audit Scotland and the Scottish Ombudsman for their views on the petition.
There are hundreds if not thousands of members of the public who have suffered a miscarriage of
administrative justice at the hands of the SPSO over the last five years of it’s existence.
The way the SPSO is handling the public’s complaints is a national disgrace and the public need to unite in the
campaign to push for change to get a more accountable and effective Ombudsman service.
This site shows you what is wrong with the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman and how to take effective
action to make the SPSO more accountable.