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The Commission for Local Administration, usually known as the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO), was established by the Local Government Act 1974. There is one Ombudsman, appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Secretary of State. The service is independent of government and of Parliament. 

The LGO service covers England: similar duties are carried out by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman and the Northern Ireland 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 injustice through maladministration by the authority concerned. He/she should also have made use of the authority’s own complaints procedure before approaching the LGO. The LGOs enjoy a good deal of discretion in the way that they carry out their functions. Moreover, the emphasis has generally been on seeking a settlement between the complainant and the authority rather than in formally identifying maladministration.

The LGO 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 LGO, 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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