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Ombudsman publishes second Annual Report

Nicola Annual Report Pic

The 2017 Annual Report for the Service Complaints Ombudsman was laid in Parliament today.  This is the Ombudsman’s second report to cover the work of her office and the reformed Service complaints process.

Although the second year of operation has seen continued improvements to the new system, it has still not been enough for the Ombudsman to assess it as efficient, effective or fair. To address this, the Ombudsman has made a further ten recommendations for improvement to the system which will run alongside the ten ongoing recommendations from the Ombudsman’s 2016 report.

The full report and the summary brochure can be found on our website under Annual Report. Highlights from the report include:

Work of the Service complaints system

In 2017:

  • 1,009 Service complaints were received by the Services
  • 775 of those complaints were deemed admissible
  • 41% of those complaints concerned Terms and Conditions of Service (TACOS) and 25% concerned pay, pensions and allowances
  • Both female and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Service personnel were overrepresented in the complaints system (20% and 10%) when compared to their representation in the Armed Forces (11% and 7%)
  • There was a general improvement in the time taken to resolve complaints across the single Services
  • 47 complaints from the old Service complaints system remained open at the end of 2017 (i.e. complaints made on or before 31 December 2015)

The work of the OSCO

In 2017:

  • 1,060 contacts were logged from individuals making an application or enquiry about the Ombudsman’s powers
  • 202 referrals were made for individuals who were unable, or unwilling, to approach their current or former chain of command directly to raise their Service complaint
  • 99% of referrals were made within 7 working days
  • 406 applications of investigation were received
  • 57% of all investigations were completed within the time target

The Service Complaints Ombudsman, Nicola Williams said:

“ The reformed Service complaints system is a significant improvement on its predecessor. However, there is still work to be done before I can assess it as efficient, effective and fair.

I remain concerned about the overrepresentation of female and BAME personnel as complainants, and also the persisting culture of viewing complaints as a negative event rather than a positive opportunity to correct potential failings. In addition, there is inadequate staffing in many different areas, including my office, which is causing delay.

Despite this, I continued to be impressed by the ongoing commitment shown by the Ministry of Defence and the single Service towards the reformed complaints system and introducing further improvement. My team and I remain committed to delivering independent oversight of the Service complaints process and helping to build a system that all Service personnel can have confidence in.”