Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 22 Mar 2019
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint about home care and respite charges incurred in 2014. This is because it is a late complaint.
- The complainant, whom I refer to as Mr X, says the Council failed to correctly assess his ability to pay for respite and home care in 2014. The Council is sending demands for £9000.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
- We cannot investigate late complaints unless we decide there are good reasons. Late complaints are when someone takes more than 12 months to complain to us about something a council has done. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I read the complaint and got some information from the Council. This includes a letter the Council sent to Mr X in 2015 and emails Mr X’s solicitor sent to the Council in 2015. I considered comments Mr X made in response to a draft of this decision.
What I found
- Mr X received home care and respite care in 2014. He complained to the Council about the chare in October 2014. The Council wrote to Mr X in 2015 explaining why the bill was correct. The Council explained that due to his savings he had to pay the full charge. Some of the charge was for nursing care which Mr X did not have to pay for.
- Mr X engaged a solicitor and said he wanted to make a legal claim for damages. I have seen an email his solicitor sent to the Council in 2015. The email said Mr X did not want to use the Council’s complaints process. The Council’s insurers rejected Mr X’s claim for damages in 2015.
- Mr X now complains that the Council is seeking payment of over £9000. He says the Council did not assess the charge properly and he did not have any savings in 2014 as the Council stated. The Council told me that all the charges were incurred in 2014 and were notified to Mr X in 2014 and 2015.
- I will not start an investigation because this is a late complaint. Mr X has known about the charge since 2014 but he did not complain to the Ombudsman until 2019. This is significantly longer than 12 months and I have not seen any good reason to accept such a late complaint. In reaching this view I have taken into account that Mr X chose not to use the complaints process and he had access to legal help. In addition, he was well enough in 2014 to complain, and get help from a solicitor, so could have escalated his complaint further at that time rather than waiting until 2019.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman