Ombudsman's salary incorrectly excluded from Main Estimates - Treasury error

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman did not have the information requested.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

On 29 April 2020 the PACAC Chair, William Wragg, wrote to Rob Behrens in the following terms (extract):

'The Ombudsman's salary was incorrectly excluded from the Main Estimate, resulting in an additional £196k being requested in the Supplementary Estimate. What checks are you putting in place to ensure that this error does not reoccur?'

In a letter dated 5 April 2020 (I think this should be May) Ombudsman Rob Behrens responded (extract):

'In relation to your query regarding why the Ombudsman's salary had been erroneously excluded from the Main Estimates, this was an error within HM Treasury during the CSR2015 settlement for PHSO. As a result, we have followed advice from HM Treasury to include this within the annual Supplementary Estimates until the next Comprehensive Spending Review.

Consequently, 2019/20 is the last year that this adjustment was necessary, and this amount was properly included within the 2020/21 Main Estimates. We have strengthened our working arrangements with HM Treasury to ensure this is not repeated.'

https://committees.parliament.uk/publica...

1. Please provide all information you hold regarding the error. If an investigation was carried out into the error, please provide the information contained in any document produced.

2. If the matter was considered by any PHSO committee or board, please provide copies of the minutes.

3. Please provide all information communicated to the Treasury regarding the error.

4. Please specify the financial years that the error went undetected and also the total sum involved.

Yours faithfully,

J Roberts

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for contacting the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s
(PHSO) Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team. This is to confirm
we have received your request. If you have made a request for information
under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Environment Information
Regulations 2004, we aim to respond to your request within 20 working days
in accordance with the statutory time frames set out in both Acts. If you
have made a request for personal information held by the PHSO, your
request will be processed as a Subject Access Request under the provisions
of the Data Protection Act 2018 and we aim to respond within one calendar
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may contact you before this time if we require further clarification or if
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Please note that we are currently experiencing a high demand, and might
not be able to comply with the statutory deadline for your request. Any
late responses can be referred to the Information Commissioner’s Office:

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For Subject Access Requests, we will send any personal information via
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If you require us to post your personal information to you instead you
will need to inform us of this and confirm your current address as soon as
possible. Angharad Jackson Data Protection Officer & Assistant Director
Information Assurance Office of the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman PHSO CityGate 47-51 Mosley Street Manchester M2 3HQ
[email address]

J Roberts left an annotation ()

'Guidance on producing Estimates Memoranda

Requirements for production of Estimates Memoranda: revised guidance '

https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

'The Accounting Officer prepares resource accounts for each financial year. The following individuals are responsible for the expenditure within this Estimate:

Accounting Officer: Rob Behrens

Rob Behrens has personal responsibility for the proper presentation of the department's resource accounts and their transmission to the Comptroller & Auditor General, and is also responsible for the use of public money and stewardship of assets.

In discharging these responsibilities, particular regard is given to:----

- observing any accounting and disclosure requirements (including any Accounts Direction) and applying suitable accounting policies on a consistent basis;

- making judgements and estimates on a reasonable basis;

- stating whether applicable accounting standards, as set out in the Financial Reporting Manual (FReM), or an organisation’s version of it, have been followed, and explain any material departures in the accounts; and

- preparing the accounts on a going concern basis.

The responsibilities of an Accounting Officer, including responsibility for regularity and propriety of the public finances for which an Accounting Officer is answerable, for keeping proper records and safeguarding assets, are also set out in Chapter 3 of Managing Public Money.'

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk... (page 649)

J Roberts left an annotation ()

June 2020 minutes:

'4.1 Gill Kilpatrick informed the Board that the PHSO Finance Team had been shortlisted for the Finance Team of the Year – National Bodies Award at the Public Sector Finance Awards. The team would be attending the awards event in April. The Board congratulated Gill Kilpatrick and Richard O'Connell for this significant achievement.'

https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/sites/defau...

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear J Roberts,

 

Your information request: FOI132

 

I write in response to your email to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman (PHSO) on 19 January 2021 requesting information under the
Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000.

 

I am writing to inform you that our response to your request will be
delayed due to the impact of the pandemic. I would like to apologise for
any inconvenience caused and to assure you that although my team and I are
unable to respond as promptly as we would like, we are continuing to work
through all requests and will respond as soon as we are in a position to
do so.

 

We can confirm that your request has been allocated so you can expect a
response in due course.

 

I thank you for your patience and understanding during this difficult
time.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

Angharad Jackson

Data Protection Officer & Assistant Director Information Assurance

Office of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

PHSO CityGate

47-51 Mosley Street

Manchester

M2 3HQ

[1][email address]

Sometimes I action emails outside of normal working hours; this doesn’t
mean I expect a response outside your normal working hours.

 

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear J Roberts,

 

RE: Your information request: FOI132

 

I write in response to your email to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman (PHSO) 19 January 2021 requesting information under the Freedom
of Information (FOI) Act 2000.

 

Your request:

1.       Please provide all information you hold regarding the error. If
an investigation was carried out into the error, please provide the
information contained in any document produced.

2.       If the matter was considered by any PHSO committee or board,
please provide copies of the minutes.

3.       Please provide all information communicated to the Treasury
regarding the error.

4.       Please specify the financial years that the error went undetected
and also the total sum involved.

 

Our response:

We do not hold information within the scope of your request. The
organisation that does hold the information you require is Her Majesty’s
Treasury (HMT) and we note that they responded to your Freedom of
Information request on [1]www.WhatDoTheyKnow.com on 8 February 2021. Your
request can be found at
[2]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t....
Should you require further information from HMT, you should contact them
directly.

 

If you believe we have made an error in the way I have processed your
information request, it is open to you to request an internal review. You
can do this by writing to us by post or by email to
[3][PHSO request email] . You will need to specify that the
nature of the issue is and we can consider the matter further. Beyond
that, it is open to you to complain to the Information Commissioner’s
Office ([4]www.ico.org.uk ) or seek a judicial remedy.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Freedom of Information/Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [5]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

 

 

 

References

Visible links
1. http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/
2. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t...
3. mailto:[PHSO request email]
4. http://www.ico.org.uk/
5. http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/
http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/

phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

So PHSO reply that they do not hold the information and contend that the requester has already received the information from HMRT. Following the link we can see that HMRT also said they do not hold the information.

Welcome to the world of transparency. It is clear as day that these government organisations are not even pretending to be helpful.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

'Approved Minutes of theBoard Extraordinary meeting held at 11:05 on 9 July 2020 (Video Conference)

4.3 The Board agreed the following:

•To delegate authority to Amanda Amroliwala as accountable officer to approve any final adjustments to the resource accounts;

•To approve the PHSO Annual Report and Accounts for 2019/20 for publication and laying before Parliament;

•To authorise the Ombudsman to sign the accounts and the Letter of Representation.'

https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/sites/defau...

Nicholas Wheatley left an annotation ()

David Allen Green is writing an article on the PHSO and looking for information from people who have experienced the service. Would be useful if anyone can contribute.

https://twitter.com/davidallengreen/stat...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Regarding my annotation of 9 February 2021:

Board minutes 17/12/20:

'15.Audit and Risk Assurance Committee

15.2 The Committee Chair highlighted the following points of interest:

The Committee had noted the success of PHSO’s Finance Team in the CIPFA Public Finance awards.'

https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/sites/defau...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

This isn't the first time PACAC enquired about financial goings-on:

'PACAC committe member Oliver Dowden MP asked the Ombudsman:

"Why was there insufficient management oversight in 2014/15?"

Dame Julie responded thus:

"The staff that were around when mistakes were made are no longer with us."'

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/i...