Headlines: July 6th, 1998

The Child Support Agency and Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food have won the unwelcome honour of having their inadequacies highlighted by the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s annual report.

Michael Buckley said 1997/98 was a bumper year for complaints to his office, ten percent up on the previous year and in ninety three per cent of cases the complaint against a department was upheld.

In a damning indictment of civil service inefficiency, he sites the case of a woman whose maintenance was in arrears due to a CSA mistake was told she would not recover them until 2019, and two farming businesses having to be repaid more than thirty four thousand pounds because of inadequate advice from MAFF.

The Ombudsman’s office said that a high proportion of his continued to be generated by CSA mistakes, including some which he has already had cause to criticise. He also noted that several departments appeared unaware of the Ombudsman’s powers and some appear not to have heard of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, in operation for four years.