Headlines: July 20th, 1998

The Parliamentary Ombudsman has made trenchant criticisms of Government departments whose poor administration has caused injustice to members of the public.

In his latest six monthly report Michael Buckley comments on nearly 200 complaints involving 22 different departments, of which more than 130 were fully upheld.

The largest number of complaints were against the Department of Social Security, which includes the Benefits Agency and the Child Support Agency (CSA).

But he also singles out the Contributions Agency for taking more than three years to refund national insurance contributions to 6,500 trainee probation officers and refusing to offer compensation.

The Arts Council of England is criticised for rejecting an application for a grant purely because it was missing a signature. Mr Buckley said: “I consider their rejection on these grounds to be unnecessarily bureaucratic and officious”

And he condemned the Department of Transport for their “determined and persistent inertia in the period 1983 to 1989” over a complaint from a member of the public about the Department’s failure to register a piece of common land as agreed in a land deal. As a result the land was encroached and closed to the public.