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Agenda Item No 6

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Standards Committee: 26th February, 2015

 

Report of the Monitoring Officer

 

Consultation on an Inquiry into the Consideration of Powers of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To seek the comments of the Standards Committee on the Finance Committee of the National Assembly for Wales' Inquiry into the Powers of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

Recommendation

THAT any views of the Standards Committee be forwarded to the Finance Committee of the National Assembly for Wales.

Reason for the Recommendation

To inform the Finance Committee of the National Assembly for Wales of the views of the Standards Committee.

 

Background

2.         The National Assembly for Wales Finance Committee is undertaking an Inquiry to consider extending the powers of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.  Should the evidence support the extension of the Ombudsman's powers the Finance Committee may consider the introduction of a Committee Bill.

3.         The Terms of Reference of the Inquiry is attached as an Appendix.

Relevant Issues and Options

4.         The current Ombudsman, Nick Bennett and his predecessor, Peter Tyndall have both called for changes to the Act during their role.  Five main areas have been highlighted for potential legislative changes to strengthen the Ombudsman's role, including:

  • own-initiative powers - this would enable the Ombudsman to initiate his own investigations without having first received a complaint about an issue
  • oral complaints - at present, the Ombudsman can only accept complaints in writing
  • complaints handled across public services - this would enable the Ombudsman to have a role in advising on complaints handling across public services
  • the Ombudsman's jurisdiction (to include private health services) - this would extend the Ombudsman's jurisdiction to enable him/her to investigate when a patient has received private healthcare (self-funded rather than being commissioned by the NHS) in conjunction with public healthcare and
  • links with the courts - the removal of the statutory bar to allow the Ombudsman to consider a case that has or had the possibility of recourse to a court, tribunal or other mechanism for review (this would give complainants the opportunity to decide which route is more appropriate for them).

5.         The Finance Committee would welcome responses to a number of questions, details of which are attached to this report. 

6.         Any submissions must be made by 20th March, 2015 at the latest.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

7.         None.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

8.         None.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

9.         As set out in the body of the report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

10.      None.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

11.      None.

Corporate/Service Objectives

12.      To ensure a Standards Committee constituted in accordance with Welsh Assembly Government Regulations.

Policy Framework and Budget

13.      Not applicable.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

14.      Not applicable.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

15.      None.

Background Papers

 

Contact Officer

Mr. C. Hope, (01446) 709855, e-mail: chope@valeofglamorgan.gov.uk

Officers Consulted

None.

 

Responsible Officer:

Ms. D. Marles

Monitoring Officer