September. Half way through the financial year, the beginning of a new academic year – and certainly this year, what feels already like the beginning of autumn.
So September always feels like a good time to look back, and to look ahead. In this issue of ombudsman news, we do a bit of both.
In ombudsman focus I’ve offered my perspective on what we’ve been seeing during the first half of our financial year. There’s more talk of recovery in the wider economy at the moment – and I’ve highlighted some reasons for optimism in the complaints world too. But I’m also sharing in the spirit of cautious optimism. I’m seeing signs of improvement, but it’s not universal, and there’s a huge amount of work to be done – by all of us.
And so to looking ahead. Every three years or so, our board commissions an external review of the ombudsman service. The review gives our non-executive board members the chance to gather independent insight to help them do their job effectively – overseeing how the ombudsman service operates. Our chairman, Sir Nick Montagu, and his fellow board members believe that the best insight comes from looking at things from different perspectives. And given the board is focussed on helping make sure the ombudsman is doing the right things in the right way, an external perspective is hugely beneficial to us all.
The focus of the external review changes each time. Previous reviews have focused on transparency, accessibility and value for money – and each one has offered something different and valuable.
You may have read in our directors’ report – which we published in July 2013 – that the board has been busy thinking about and commissioning the next external review. Since then, more work has gone into defining its focus. This time around, the review will focus on the future. It will explore the ombudsman service’s environment – the attitudes and behaviour of the people and organisations that shape it, and how they are likely to change over the coming years.
Insight into the future, based on the best research available, will be thought-provoking for anyone working in an environment like ours. Because at the moment, change is the only thing we feel able to predict with any certainty.
Keep an eye on our website for more updates about the practicalities of how the review will go ahead – and your opportunity to feed into it.
chief executive and chief ombudsman
ombudsman news gives general information on the position at the date of publication. It is not a definitive statement of the law, our approach or our procedure.
The illustrative case studies are based broadly on real-life cases, but are not precedents. Individual cases are decided on their own facts.