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Ombudsman highlights lack of transparency in Housing Allocation Scheme

The Ombudsman has said there is a lack of transparency in the administration of the Housing Allocation Scheme which has led to unfair decisions regarding applications for inclusion on the list.

According to the latest annual report of Gibraltar’s Ombudsman, Dilip Dayaram Tirathdas, housing continues to be one of the most complained about Government departments.

Specifically he highlighted the Housing Department’s failure to follow its own established written rules and procedures under the Housing Allocation Scheme Rules.

The Ombudsman has therefore recommended that full details of the approved Housing Allocation Scheme be published.

According to the report, Mr Dayaram Tirathdas has pointed out to the Authority that an important principle of good administration is to be open and clear about policies and procedures and to ensure that any information and advice provided is clear, accurate and complete.

But, he flagged “unreasonable and unfair decisions” regarding applications for inclusion in the housing waiting list and not providing applicants with reasons for their non-inclusion in the list.

Mr Dayaram Tirathdas also highlighted delays in answering correspondence as well as the refusal to provide him with a substantive reply on the grounds that a decision made by the department was based on Government policy.

The report further highlights how some findings of maladministration and the consequent recommendations made by the Ombudsman in previous annual reports are still pending a satisfactory resolution by the relevant public service provider.

Although the Ombudsman does not have powers under the Public Services Ombudsman Act 1998 to compel public service providers to implement or act upon his recommendations, these recommendations are usually followed by them.

In his last Annual Report, the Ombudsman made a number of recommendations following his investigations and findings of maladministration.

This included complaints lodged against the Housing Authority and the Gibraltar Electricity Authority, but are still yet to be acted upon.

Despite this, Mr Dayaram Tirathdas flagged as a highlight for 2019 the act that the Gibraltar Parliament passed a Resolution providing for the Public Services Ombudsman Act 1998 to be reviewed to enable the Office of the Public Services Ombudsman to launch investigations of its own motion or own initiative.