London Borough of Bexley (18 006 765)

Category : Adult care services > Disabled facilities grants

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 07 Nov 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr X complains that previous delay of over a year by the Council in accepting a disabled facilities grant application has prevented adaptations to his house to benefit his disabled child, Y. The Council has attempted to pursue the matter with Mr X since the Ombudsman found fault, but Mr X has not engaged with the Council. No further remedy is due.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, complains delay by the Council has prevented adaptations to his house to meet the needs of his disabled child, Y.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. If we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)
  2. 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:
  • the fault has not caused injustice to the person who complained, or
  • the injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement.

(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

  1. Under the information sharing agreement between the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman and the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), we will share this decision with Ofsted.

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I read Mr X’s complaint and asked him what adaptations the Council agreed. I asked the Council for evidence of Y’s needs to work out what he had missed out on for six months. I considered documents the Council sent me, then sent a draft of this decision to both parties for their comments. I am issuing a final decision at Mr X’s request.

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What I found

  1. We found fault with the Council in complaint 15 009 647 in April 2016 for not allowing Mr X to apply for a disabled facilities grant (DFG) for more than a year. In settlement of that complaint, the Council agreed to start the application process immediately and pay Mr X £250 for his time and trouble in having to approach us for assistance.
  2. The Council supplied evidence that it offered an occupational therapy (OT) assessment of Y’s needs in March 2016 to start the process. Mr X declined, saying he would wait for our final decision before deciding whether to apply for a DFG. I have seen no evidence that he contacted the Council to take up the offer in the year that followed.
  3. The Council provided a copy of an OT assessment carried out in June 2017. This identified a need for several adaptations to Mr X’s property. The Council supplied evidence that it attempted to contact Mr X after this to move matters on and arrange the work. In an email of 29 November 2017, Mr X said he had other priorities and would return to the Council once they were resolved. His email said there were other matters in dispute.
  4. I asked Mr X, without success, to confirm what adaptations had been agreed and if they had been carried out. He did not say the proposed adaptations were wrong. When I asked the Council for information about what adaptations it had agreed following complaint 15 009 647, it asked me to specify the matter precisely as it had a significant number of complaints on record from Mr X, some of which were still active.
  5. I have seen no evidence that Mr X has approached the Council since November 2017 to arrange the adaptations. The Council has confirmed no work has been done, but that it is willing to proceed. I note that Mr X has been able to pursue other matters with the Council. And he has not said he disputes the proposed adaptations. So, I consider he has been able to engage with the issue of the adaptations for most of a period of two and a half years since the spring of 2016, but has not done so. I therefore find that there is no remaining injustice to Y from the Council’s earlier delay in starting the DFG process. This is because the Council has been willing to carry out work, but has been unable to do so as Mr X has not engaged.

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Final decision

  1. I do not find there is any remaining injustice from the fault found earlier in complaint 15 009 647.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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