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Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman upholds three in four complaints about the Home Office

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has revealed that it upheld 75% of complaints made against the Home Office and Border Force last year:

Incorrect decisions, delays and wrong advice are the top reasons for the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman upholding the highest proportion of complaints about the Home Office than any other government department, a report published today reveals.

The report outlines the unresolved complaints the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman investigated about all government departments last year.

It provides detailed information about the ‘big four’ departments: the Home Office, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), which made up more than three quarters of the investigations about government departments and agencies in 2015-16.

The Ombudsman service upheld 75% of complaints about the Home Office, compared to 39% about the Department for Work and Pensions, 36% about the Ministry of Justice and 10% about Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs. Overall in 2015-16 the Ombudsman service upheld 40% of complaints it investigated, including about the NHS in England.

The case studies in the report show that where mistakes were made, they were then excacerbated by a failure to understand and deal adequately with the impact that they had on individuals and their families. Even where the Home Office had accepted that it had behaved wrongly, it failed to provide an adequate remedy for the problems caused.

The section on the Home Office and Border Force is worth a read in full. It includes examples of people seriously inconvenienced and compensation payments ordered, including payments of over £3,000 for expenses, lost earnings and distress. There were 74 investigations and the upheld rate has been going up year on year, suggesting the Home Office is failing to learn from past investigations.

The reasons for upheld complaints are summarised in a handy chart:

To make a complaint to the Ombudsman it is necessary to have exhausted the Home Office complaints process and then write to your local MP and ask for the case to be referred to the Ombudsman. Details can be found here on the process.

Compensation can be ordered where a complaint is upheld; compensation is often not possible through court action.

Source: Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman | Ombudsman upholds three in four complaints about the Home Office, report reveals

Colin Yeo
A barrister specialising in UK immigration law at Garden Court Chambers in London, I have been practising in immigration law for 15 years. I am passionate about immigration law and founded and edit the Free Movement immigration law blog.

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