The Charity Commission and Quack Charities – Update

This quick update is more about the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman (PHSO) than about the Charity Commission, which is currently silent as usual. When I phoned the PHSO on 11th May I was told that a letter had been sent on 30th April. Yesterday (18th May) nothing had arrived, so I phoned the PHSO again. At my request the letter concerned was emailed to me. It wasn’t actually a letter, but text pasted into the email, and dated 1st May. Here it is:

Thank you for the papers you kindly sent to us. On receipt of your enquiry we contacted the Charities Commission. We wanted to ensure that you had exhausted their complaints process before we begin an investigation.

The Charities Commission recently wrote to us to clarify this. They said that, at present, your complaint is still being considered by them. Such consideration may resolve your concerns. If the Charities Commission’s formal response does not resolve your concerns you may of course come back to us and ask us to investigate. As you MP referred your complaint to us, you will not need him to do so again unless you raise different matters.

Please contact me if you have any queries about this letter or the services we provide.

Yours sincerely,

Dan Turner

Case Worker

I am wondering how a letter dated 1st May could have been sent on 30th April. It looks rather more like a draft that was left on the system and not sent until I chased – twice. Nice of the PHSO to invite feedback on their service, so here is mine which was promptly sent:

You have asked for feedback about the PHSO service. I can sum it up in one word – appalling. After submitting my complaint via my MP on 17th February 2015, I received no response until today, and only after I repeatedly chased via phone and email. Three months to acknowledge a complaint is not acceptable for any public body, let alone one which is tasked to investigate other public bodies.

…and here is my reply to their `letter’:

Thanks for this acknowledgement, which has take 3 months to arrive. I should clarify that my original complaint to the Charity Commission was dated 27th July 2014. I then followed their complaints process and requested a review of their decision to take no action. This was in late August 2014 – I had to write several times including to their CEO (who never replied), because all I received were auto-replies until I said I would go to the PHSO. The Commission most recently told me that I have not completed their complaints process and referred me to it again – I have of course already done this. But they have told the PHSO that they are still considering my complaint. Which is true? They won’t say. It is 9 months since my request for review. My question to you is, how long do you allow this to continue?

During our phone conversation today you asked for the reference number, but it isn’t on your email. What is it?

No reply as of today (19th), but I suppose I’ll have to give them time – another 3 months?

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4 Responses

  1. I’ve found quite a few public bodies don’t provide a reference number, making it more difficult that it needs to be to chase things up. I now always include my own reference (eg MHRA-2015-05-) and ask them to quote it in any correspondence. It seems to help!

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