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Cabinet Office consultation on A Public Service Ombudsman

20 June 2015

We welcome the opportunity to respond to the Cabinet Office consultation on A Public Service Ombudsman [ 310 kb].

As the Gordon report acknowledges, people face a complicated and confusing complaints landscape, and many struggle to identify to whom they should address their concerns. Citizens Advice is often where people turn when services do not respond to their needs or processes are too complex.

From our work with more than 2.5 million people in 3300 community locations across England and Wales, run by over 330 registered charities, and over 20.5 million unique visitors to our website (2014-15), we have unparalleled insight into the problems people face, and the problems they encounter when seeking to complain.

People come to Citizens Advice seeking support around a wide range of public services, with a growing number of people wanting help around a complaint. Over the last four years we have seen a slow but steady increase in the number of queries about public services, increasing by 10 per cent over the period 2011-12 2014-15.

Advice queries about complaints have particularly increased, and in many instances now represent a greater proportion of the query types received in specific public service categories than they did four years ago. This indicates that not only are people receiving a poorer service in many areas, they are also finding it harder to complain about those services.