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The Local Government Ombudsman investigates complaints from members of the public who have suffered personal injustice arising from maladministration by local authorities.

The Ombudsman was created in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1974 which established the Commission for Local Administration, the body that oversees its work and determines its strategic priorities. The service is independent of government and of Parliament.

The Ombudsman was renamed the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) in 2017 to reflect the fact that it looks at all areas of adult social care, including privately arranged or funded care.

Similar duties are carried out by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman and the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman. Complaints against central government departments and health bodies in England are covered by the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman.

For a valid complaint to be made, a complainant must have suffered personal injustice through maladministration by the authority or body concerned. They should also have made use of the authority’s own complaints procedure before approaching the LGSCO. The LGSCO has a great deal of discretion in the way it carries out its functions with an emphasis on seeking a settlement between the complainant and the authority, rather than in formally identifying maladministration.

The LGSCO cannot compel an authority to implement its recommendations, although in practice councils almost always do act on them. There is no right of appeal against a decision by the LGSCO, but it is possible to seek judicial review where it is believed that the legal basis of a decision is flawed.

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