The participation and engagement we saw during the EU referendum was something we haven’t experienced for decades and I see my role as minister for the constitution as crucial to ensure that we maintain that record level of democratic engagement.
For the past few months I have been touring the country meeting more than 80 organisations to discover what barriers remain to participation and engagement in our communities. I have already put the wheels in motion on a range of policies, including improving access to anonymous registration for survivors of domestic abuse and enfranchising British expats who have lived overseas for more than 15 years.
But there is more to do. The government is accountable to the people all of the time – not just once every five years.
That is why I am publishing a draft ombudsman bill on 5 December that will create a single point of contact for those who wish to make complaints about their experience with public services.
When something goes wrong, I want it to be as simple as possible for people to pursue a complaint and to achieve rapid and effective redress.
The bill will bring together the responsibilities of the parliamentary and health service ombudsman and the local government ombudsman, making the process simpler and removing unnecessary barriers to making a complaint. And the new ombudsman’s reach will be broad, extending to government departments and a range of other public bodies in the UK, local government, adult social care and the NHS in England.
I will also give the new office a wider and more explicit role in championing improvements in complaints handling and promoting good practice. To enable them to carry out their work effectively and efficiently they will be supported by a modern governance structure, including a statutory board with strengthened accountability.
The measures in this draft bill will ensure that anyone who makes a justified complaint can expect a rapid, effective remedy and that their voice will be heard. Wherever possible this should, of course, be provided by the organisation concerned but when citizens need access to an independent and strong voice, the new public service ombudsman will be there.
Nearest tube – Elephant & Castle underground station (Northern and Bakerloo lines).
Nearest Railway Station – Elephant & Castle
Buses from Elephant and Castle – ask bus driver for Burgess Park. Bus numbers: 12, 171, 148, 176, 68, 484, 42, 40, 45