Mounting criticism of government services

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The Independent Online
Shoddy treatment of the public by government departments, agencies and other bodies has led to a marked rise in complaints to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, writes Patricia Wynn Davies.

William Reid, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, said in his latest report to Parliament that the number of grievances showed the public's growing unwillingness to suffer a poor standard of service.

He said: 'If only officials dealing with a member of the public would treat that person as they themselves would like to be treated, it would make a great difference to the standard of service.

'Too often I find that letters are sent to the wrong address, not once but many times, even after the addressee has told the body sending the letters of the correct address.'

Some complaints involved significant maladministration, the ombudsman said.

'But even quite trivial acts of carelessness can result in considerable inconvenience, distress and sometimes financial loss to individuals who then turn to me to help put right the wrongs they have suffered.'

Some 74 cases involving 17 departments and other bodies were completed between March and June, and 40 complaints were upheld.