Wigan MP calls for overhaul of ombudsman system

A parliamentary group led by an MP from the borough is recommending a major overhaul of the country’s ombudsman system.

Wednesday, 30th January 2019, 1:09 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th January 2019, 2:13 pm
Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue

Makerfield parliamentary representative Yvonne Fovargue chairs the all-party group on consumer protection which says changes are needed to how complaints are handled.

The group’s report published today found huge differences in how sectors looked into allegations of wrongdoing and a low level of consumer confidence in the ombudsman system.

The matter is now expected to be referred to the Law Commission so the best practices identified can be applied across the board.

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MPs have also made a number of recommendations, including mandatory membership for all ombudsman schemes, uniform abilities to enforce decisions and making all organisations answerable to parliament’s select committees.

Ms Fovargue said: “There is much that is good about the provision of ombudsman services, but there is far too much variation in what each ombudsman can do.

“Some cover all the firms in their sector and have the power to enforce judgments, but many do not.

“The result is that many consumers do not know who to turn to with their complaints.

“The recommendations in our report are about ensuring that all ombudsman schemes follow best practice. We want to take what is good about the system and ensure that it applies uniformly and comprehensively.

“The ombudsman system has the potential to be the ‘gold standard’ of alternative dispute resolution if the standards of the rest can be brought up to the standards of the best.”

The all-party parliamentary group has been looking into the ombudsman landscape since April 2018 after hearing of consumer confusion.