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Warm Front: how early engagement with the Ombudsman helps to resolve complaints

The Department's perspective

We asked the Department what they had learnt from our involvement in these cases. They said:

‘Since starting to work more closely with the Ombudsman’s [service] on Warm Front complaint investigations, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, working with Carillion, has made considerable progress in terms of improved complaint resolution and customer service.

‘A helpful tactic was to share the Ombudsman’s Principles with Carillion. This has enabled us to ensure we were all lined up and working to the same aims – for example – to uphold the principle that we should try to offer a remedy that returns the complainant to the position they would have been in otherwise.  We have held case conferences and discussed complaint case intervention outcomes with the Ombudsman’s [service] and Carillion to agree what is fair and to use past case results to determine future handling process.

‘We would naturally prefer that no complaints need to be escalated to the Ombudsman [service] and this is what we strive for.  However, no complaints going forward could indicate a lack of signposting and transparency. The fact that some complaints have been escalated does show that the public, through their MP, are able to take their complaints onwards where necessary and that they understand how to do so – which in its own way, is a good thing.’