Sunderland City Council (19 007 803)

Category : Adult care services > Disabled facilities grants

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 09 Mar 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint about a Disabled Facilities Grant which was awarded in 2015. This is because it is a late complaint.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I refer to as Mr X, complains about work which was done, funded by a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG), in 2016. Mr X says the work was poor and caused him to fall in 2019.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
  2. 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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I read the complaint and responses the Council sent to Mr X in 2016 and 2019. I considered comments Mr X made in reply to a draft of this decision.

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What I found

What happened

  1. In 2015 the Council awarded a DFG to pay for a step lift and ramp. There were some initial minor defects which the contractor fixed. A Council surveyor inspected the work in March 2016 and decided it was satisfactory. Mr X complained about associated issues in 2016. The Council replied to the complaint in 2016 and signposted Mr X to the Ombudsman if he was dissatisfied with the response.
  2. In 2019 Mr X contacted the Council to say people kept leaving the gate open. The Council found no problem with the lift but decided the only way to stop people leaving the gate open was to build a separate set of steps for visitors. Mr X also mentioned that water had a tendency to pool at the top of the ramp. The Council says he did not report any falls. The Council awarded a second DGF to fund the alternative steps and deal with the pooling.
  3. Mr X says he is now satisfied with the work originally started in 2016. However, he says the work did not reach a satisfactory standard until August 2019. He says his complaint is not late and the Council is lying. He also says some work is needed inside his home.


  1. I will not start an investigation because this a late complaint. The Council signed the work off in 2016 and signposted Mr X to the Ombudsman in 2016. If Mr X thought the qualify of the work was poor then it is reasonable to expect he would have complained to the Ombudsman in 2016. However, he waited until 2019 to make his complaint. In addition, the second DFG was for alternative steps and not to make good the work that was completed in 2016. I have not seen any good reason to accept such as late complaint especially as there is no evidence that there was anything wrong with the 2016 DFG.
  2. Mr X says there are some problems inside his home which need to be fixed. This, however, is a matter he would need to take up with his landlord. The Council is not his landlord.

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Final decision

  1. I will not start an investigation because this is a late complaint.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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