Watchdog calls for increase in budget

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Indy Politics
THE parliamentary Ombudsman warned yesterday that unless Treasury officials meet his request for more funding, he may not be able to do his job effectively.

William Reid, who deals with complaints about Government maladministration passed on to him from MPs, and also with grievances about the National Health Service from the public in his other capacity as Health Service Commissioner, said that an increasing workload meant his department needed additional resources.

So far, the Treasury had 'not been wildly enthusiastic' about his request, he said.

Mr Reid told a cross-party committee of MPs, inquiring into whether his role and powers should be widened, that unless he got the extra money, 'it will not be possible for me to deliver the standard of service this committee would expect me to deliver'.

His office has a staff of about 100 and a budget of pounds 4.5m. Last year it dealt with 945 referrals from MPs - the highest number since 1980. Of those complaints that it investigated, 93 per cent were found to be wholly or partly justified.

The Department of Social Security was the biggest offender with the largest single subject being the workings of the new disability living allowance, introduced in April 1992.

Wearing his other hat, Mr Reid received a further 1,176 complaints direct from the public about the NHS.

On average, cases from MPs took 13 months to investigate, while NHS complaints occupied 45 weeks.

'I need some more people to give the standard of service I would like to give,' Mr Reid added.