The first Ombudsman service was set up in Sweden more than 200 years ago to give people a place to go if they had a dispute with the state.

Over time that idea has been extended so that Ombudsmen provide a free, independent service with powers intended to address the difference in financial resources and power between people, government bodies and large organisations.

Today there are Ombudsman schemes for most public services in the UK as well some covering the private sector.

If you use an Ombudsman service you can expect them to:

  • provide a free service which means people who can’t afford to take someone to court can get help to sort out a problem
  • ask both parties to try and resolve a problem before starting a formal investigation
  • be fair and impartial, they are not advocates or consumer champions
  • identify injustice and seek to put it right, usually this will mean making sure someone hasn’t lost out because of a problem.

Some Ombudsmen also look at whether or not there is a wider problem within an organisation or industry.

You can find out more about what Ombudsmen do and search for organisations that may be able to help you on the Ombudsman Association website.