Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 18 Mar 2021
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the initiation by the Council of safeguarding investigations in relation to the complainant’s care and financial management for his father. This is because we are unlikely to find fault in the Council’s actions. We will not investigate a complaint on behalf of the complainant’s father as we do not consider the complainant to be a suitable representative.
- Unjustly conducted a safeguarding investigation in relation to his management of his father, F’s, financial affairs;
- Unjustly requested the Court of Protection (CoP) to remove his Power of Attorney PoA) and to give the Council appointeeship over F’s financial affairs;
- Unjustly widened the safeguarding investigation, to include a visit from an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA), and a poorly conducted investigation into the social, cultural and faith aspects of his care for his father.
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 may investigate a complaint on behalf of someone who has died or who cannot authorise someone to act for them. The complaint may be made by:
- their personal representative (if they have one), or
- someone we consider to be suitable.
- (Local Government Act 1974, section 26A(2), as amended)
- We cannot investigate a complaint about the start of court action or what happened in court. (Local Government Act 1974, Schedule 5/5A, paragraph 1/3, as amended)
- 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 we would find fault. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered the information provided by Mr T and I have sent him a draft decision for his comments.
What I found
- Mr T held Power of Attorney to manage F’s finances. However, when F’s liabilities went into long standing arrears, the Council started a safeguarding investigation into Mr T’s management of F’s finances. As a result of its findings, the Council then requested the CoP to remove Mr T’s PoA, and to make the Council the appointee to manage F’s financial affairs.
- Mr T has complained about these actions, but it is the Council’s responsibility to explore any concerns raised through the safeguarding process. It also had a duty to refer the matter to the CoP if it felt that Mr T was not managing F’s finances properly, and that this was having a deleterious effect on F’s well being.
- I will not investigate this issue as it is unlikely that I would find fault in the Council’s decisions.
- I cannot investigate the core issue of whether Mr T was mismanaging F’s financial affairs as that is now a matter for the CoP to consider.
- Mr T further complains that the Council has widened its safeguarding investigation to include consideration of the social, cultural and faith aspects of his care to F. Mr T says that the use of an IMCA was unnecessary, and that the investigation was poorly conducted.
- I will not investigate the decision to widen the scope of the safeguarding investigation. This is because the Council has a responsibility to consider any safeguarding concerns that are raised.
- In addition, I will not look at any complaint on behalf of F as I do not consider Mr T to be a suitable representative for F, given that is the focus of the safeguarding investigations.
- I will not investigate this complaint. This is because I am unlikely to find fault in the Council’s decisions. I cannot consider any allegations that the CoP is considering, and I will not accept Mr T as a suitable representative on behalf of his father.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman