Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman

Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman

Progressive House, 16 Wellington Place,
United Kingdom

The Office of the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO) was established in April 2016.  This was in accordance with the Public Services Ombudsman Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 (“the Act”). 

The Act replaced and extended the remit of the previous offices of Assembly Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Complaints. It has improved public access to redress, strengthened the powers of investigation, enhanced public interest reporting and increased the Office’s visibility and profile.

The main functions of the office are:

  1. To consider complaints about the majority of public services in Northern Ireland after the complaint has been considered by the public body. This includes health and social care, central government, local government, housing and education including schools;


  1. To make recommendations to provide individual redress as well as recommendations to bring about systemic improvement;


  1. To bring about a simple standardised process for handling complaints in the public sector focused on resolution and learning from complaints;


  1.  To conduct investigations into wider systemic issues to bring about systemic improvement or address systemic injustice without the need for a complaint;


  1. To publish our reports and decisions and prepare and share insights to bring about wider learning and improvement from complaints and investigations;


  1. To use the outcomes from our work to engage effectively and influence positive change in public services and public policy;


  1. To perform the role of Northern Ireland Judicial appointments Ombudsman.


Funding for NIPSO is approved by the Audit Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly. The NIPSO budget for 2021/22 was approximately £3.6 million.



Local Government Commissioner for Standards

In addition to the above functions the Ombudsman is also the Northern Ireland Local Government Commissioner for Standards. This role involves promoting the Code of Conduct and both investigating and where appropriate adjudicating on complaints that a Councillor has breached the Northern Ireland Local Government Code of Conduct for Councillors. The investigation and adjudication functions are separated by an ethical wall to ensure procedural fairness. In addition to investigation and adjudication, engagement with councillors and their representative bodies is an important aspect of the function.  The delivery of training on and improving awareness of the Code of Conduct for Councillors with Local Councils and the Councillor community to improve understanding of the code and improve standards is an essential aspect of the work.  The funding for this aspect of the work is provided by local councils through the Department for Communities and is included in the overall NIPSO budget.

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Type of Organisation

Public Sector


  • Janice Wilson