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London Borough of Merton (19 016 700)

Category : Adult care services > Charging

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 24 Mar 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint about charges for Mr X’s attendance at a day centre. This is because the Council is no longer asking for any payment.

The complaint

  1. Mrs X complained the Council sought payment of more than her late husband, Mr X, had owed for his attendance at a day centre.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Mrs X provided and copies of complaint correspondence the Council sent us. I gave Mrs X the opportunity to comment on my draft decision.

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What I found

  1. The Council arranged for Mr X to attend a day centre. Mr X sadly died in 2019. When Mrs X complained to us, the Council was seeking payment for day centre attendance in 2018 and 2019. Mrs X argued the Council was asking for more than Mr X actually owed.
  2. The Council has now closed the account and is no longer asking for any payment as it understands Mr X did not leave money when he died.
  3. The main point is resolved as the Council is no longer asking for payment of the disputed amount. I do not consider an investigation by the Ombudsman would be likely to achieve significantly more.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely we could achieve significantly more now that the main point is resolved.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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