About the SPSO

Role of the SPSO

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) is the final stage for complaints about councils, the National Health Service, housing associations, colleges and universities, prisons, most water providers, the Scottish Government and its agencies and departments and most Scottish authorities. The SPSO is also the independent reviewer for the Scottish Welfare Fund.

Complaints Standards Authority

The Complaints Standards Authority (CSA) was established by the SPSO in October 2010 to work closely with public bodies to standardise and simplify complaints handling procedures and to help drive improvement.  The overall aim of the CSA is to improve complaints handling to ensure that complaints are handled more simply, more effectively and more consistently, and are resolved at the first point of contact, wherever possible.

The Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010gave the SPSO the power to publish standardised complaints handling procedures for listed authorities (including local authorities, the NHS, Registered Social Landlords, colleges and universities, Scottish Government, Scottish Parliament and associated bodies). The PSR Act also requires the SPSO to monitor and promote best practice in complaints handling.

Learning and Improvement Unit

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman introduced the idea of a small learning and improvement unit in our 2016-2020 strategic plan consultation. It was positively received by stakeholders and its overall aim is to improve public services by increasing the impact of our work, especially our recommendations. For the first time, we have dedicated resources to do more ‘preventative’ work and, along with our Complaints Standards Authority, the unit supports organisations to get upstream of complaints to help identify and tackle problem areas early. The focus of the Learning and Improvement unit (the LIU) is on building our capacity to drive improvement through learning from complaints, especially by the public authorities that bring us the largest volume of complaints or that exhibit repeat failings or systemic complaints handling issues.

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