2 - Oral complaints
Currently, if someone wants to make a complaint to the Ombudsman about a public service they have received, they must put it in writing.
The Ombudsman's office has a Complaints Advice Team who help members of the public. If a person calls to make a complaint but is unable to put it in writing, the team will record the details and send it back to the person. It is the complainant’s responsibility to check, sign and return the form.
Only around 50 per cent of these forms are actually signed and returned by members of the public, meaning that 50 per cent of these complaints are never considered.
The Ombudsman wants to be able to receive complaints made orally. Nick Bennett said:
At UK level, 94 per cent of the population attain literacy level 1 or above, but in Wales it is only 87 per cent. Access to this service should not discriminate against people who cannot write.
Most witnesses supported the idea and felt it could help vulnerable people to make complaints.
The Committee believes the Ombudsman should be able to decide how complaints can be made to him (such as in writing, orally, etc) but he must issue guidance that sets out accepted methods.