Scotland’s public services watchdog has accused the Scottish Government of a “lack of progress” over enabling her to hold public value investigations.
Rosemary Agnew, the Scottish Public Services Obmudsman (SPSO), said the inability to hold this type of investigation is a “significant gap” in her powers.
She said an approach such as Ireland’s would help her raise concerns on behalf of vulnerable people, giving a “voice to the voiceless”.
Public value investigations are instigated by the ombudsman, whose office normally investigates complaints about public services lodged by the public.
They do not have to be about a specific complaint.
In a written submission to the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee, ahead of a meeting on Wednesday, Ms Agnew said she told the committee last year of legislative changes she sought, including the ability to hold public value investigations.
The submission states: “This is a significant gap in my powers when compared to other ombudsman schemes.
“It is available as standard to many ombudsmen across Europe, particularly those jurisdictions most like Scotland’s.
“Ombudsman schemes that have these powers tend to use them sparingly.
“The main point about the approach is that the investigations demonstrate public value and highlight issues that might not, through the normal course of a complaint, come to light.
“In other jurisdictions, such as Ireland, they have shown to be very effective at raising issues faced by vulnerable groups – a voice for the voiceless.”
The submission continues: “I have continued to discuss these with the Scottish Government but am concerned about the lack of progress.
“While discussions with the Scottish Government are ongoing, I have not yet had a definitive or final response.”
She also called for legislative changes to enable those making complaints to no longer be legally required to submit them in writing, unless can demonstrate exceptional circumstances.
Ms Agnew wants to be able to receive complaints in “any format”, which she said would remove communication barriers.