Oliver Letwin – the Complainers’ Champion

phsothefacts-logo-D3.pngThe Rt. Hon Oliver Letwin is Minister for Government Policy, a member of the Cabinet Office and advisor to David Cameron.  Following a meeting at the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC), parliamentlive.tv  Mr. Letwin announced that he was leading an inquiry into the way complaints are handled.

This inquiry will involve two reviews.


1.  How to make it easier for the public to make a complaint, with view to introducing a single Ombudsman service, entered from one main portal.

2.  How complaints are treated by civil servants, government departments, MPs and the NHS. (This would include the Ombudsman – PHSO).

He vowed to create, for “the first time in history,” a system in which complaints are treated as “a huge potential mine of information on service delivery”, adding: “I am intending to drive that forward myself.”

You can read the full report here:   bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics

Mr. Letwin’s inquiry is due to start in January and his office have stated that,  ‘…we will be drawing on the experiences of those who have had first-hand experience of all levels of the complaints system.’     So here is your chance to be heard. 

As it is notoriously difficult for letters of complaint to actually reach the member of parliament they are intended for, phsothefacts.com will collect, collate and deliver personally all evidence directed to Mr. Oliver Letwin.  This delivery will take place on 16th December 2013, so please ensure your submissions are in well before that date.

What do I submit?

  1. He would like to know if you found your MP helpful.
  2. He is asking whether you had any difficulty navigating the system.  (keep both of these points brief as these are not as significant as receiving a fair hearing).
  3. Most importantly he is investigating how complaints are used to improve service delivery.  Given that over 98% of cases handled by PHSO are refused investigation on spurious grounds, it follows that none of these incidents provide any opportunity for improvements to service delivery.  After all PHSO  rarely finds that any public body has acted ‘unreasonably’.   (Provide hard evidence on this point).

Do’s and Don’t s

  • Do be brief.  Aim for 2 sides of A4.
  • Do supply hard evidence.  Supposition can be dismissed.
  • Do reiterate that as PHSO failed to investigate/ignored your evidence/manipulated the facts/colluded with the public body/failed to address the key issues, etc. then no lessons were learned and no improvements made.  This ties in with his investigation.
  • Don’t write your whole story.  Give only an overview as necessary.
  • Don’t argue about anything you can’t prove.
  • Don’t become over-emotional.  Stick to the facts.

When you have completed your evidence, please contact Carol-Ann Purkis by email at capurkis@hotmail.com   She will organise for your paperwork to be included in the file to be presented on the 16th December at the next PASC inquiry meeting.

It is very important that Mr. Letwin has first-hand stories from users of the public service Ombudsman.  Only the cabinet office can change legislation and this will be required if we are to move away from the present unaccountable service which is protected by the ‘discretion’ clause built into the 1967 Act.  So speak up now!