Recent meetings of the SPSO “customer sounding board”.

The SPSO News of 27 July 2016 published the following note on the meeting of 30 June 2016:

“Our customer sounding board is made up of representatives of the following organisations – Age Scotland, Alliance Scotland, Citizens Advice Scotland, Patient Opinion, Positive Prison, the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance, and Tenant Participation Advisory Service Scotland. The agenda for the meeting held at the end of June included an update on our new learning and improvement unit project, provisional findings from our customer satisfaction survey and proposals for a new customer forum. There was also discussion of our new role as the independent reviewer of Scottish Welfare Fund decisions and our forthcoming role in social work complaints (details in the CSA update below). You can read more about our sounding boards at

On 26 March 2015 the SPSO had written “Niki Maclean gave details of a customer feedback pilot which commenced in February. The Pilot findings and recommendations will be shared with the Board at their next meeting.” In fact that did not happen until, one presumes, the above meeting of 30 June 2016, for which the minutes are not yet available. We do not know when the pilot survey was completed, but one does wonder whether the delay is deliberate.

As the minutes were not given for any meetings since March 2015, we requested further information under FOISA on 29 July. What we asked is given in the SPSO’s reply (25 August) which is given below – in which our queries are followed by SPSO responses. The date of the previous meeting is not stated in the reply, but is given in the website as 5 November 2015. The minutes for the latter were only made available on the website subsequent to our FOISA request (i.e. nearly nine months after 5 November).

The SPSO response to the FOI request (with our queries in italics)

Your request for information

I refer to your email to Emma Gray of 29 July 2016. In your correspondence you ask for information about the customer sounding board.

Your request has been processed in line with the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), and I can now respond as follows.

  1. The notes/minutes of the latest meeting.
    The minute is currently in the process of being signed off and will be published on our website at within 12 weeks, therefore, we consider that this is exempt information under section 27 of the FOISA (information intended for future publication).
  2. The date of the latest meeting.
    30 June 2016
  3. Since there are 2-3 meetings per year, there have presumably been others since 26th March 2015. Please also send the notes/minutes for those meetings.
    This information is now available on our website at, therefore, we consider this is exempt information under section 25 of the FOISA (information otherwise accessible).
  4. The word “customer” is more usually applied by the SPSO to members of the public submitting complaints. In what sense are the sounding board members customers?
    The sounding board members are from customer representative organisations.
  5. How many specific complaints or complainants did the sounding board members make reference to at the meeting?
    None – there were general discussions.
  6. What are the provisional findings from your customer satisfaction survey?
    We intend to complete our analysis and publish the results on our website at within 12 weeks, therefore, we consider that this is exempt information under section 27 of the FOISA (information intended for future publication). The customer sounding board were also updated on the customer survey at the
    June meeting (please see question 1 response above).
  7. What are the proposals for a new customer forum?
    Proposals for a new customer forum will be made public within the next 12 weeks through the Ombudsman’s usual communication channels, for example within the monthly commentary. The customer sounding board were also updated on the development of a new customer forum at the June meeting (please see question 1 response above).

Your Right to Request a Review and of Appeal

You have a right under FOISA to request a review of any part of this decision, or of the handling of your request, and of appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner if you remain dissatisfied. Details about requesting a review and appealing to the Commissioner are set out on page 3 of the enclosed information leaflet ‘Your Information Rights & SPSO’.

Yours sincerely
Helen Littlemore
Corporate Information Governance Officer