Nottingham City Council (20 011 857)

Category : Adult care services > Disabled facilities grants

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 25 Mar 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s decision not to award a Disabled Facilities Grant and build a drive. This is because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council. In addition, the Council is still exploring the issue with the complainant.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I refer to as Mrs X, complains the Council will not award a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) so she can build a drive. Mrs X wants the Council to approve the drive and award a DFG.

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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 an investigation if we believe it is unlikely we would find fault. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I read the complaint and the Council’s responses. I invited Mrs X to comment on a draft of this decision.

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What I found

What happened

  1. The Council helped Mrs X, and her partner, to find a home. The Occupational Therapist had recommended that they need a property with close on-street parking. In 2018 Mrs X found a bungalow and spoke to the Council. The Council agreed it could provide a shower but pointed out there was no driveway. The property is set back from the street with foot access via a small alley from the pavement to the property. The notes say Mrs X’s partner had viewed the property and decided he could walk to the road.
  2. Mrs X bought the property. Since then her partner’s mobility has deteriorated. Mrs X asked the Council for a DFG to pay for the construction of a drive from the property to the road. The Council said Mrs X would first need to acquire ownership of the land which the drive would use; currently the land is part of neighbours’ gardens. The Council also explained she would need to get planning consent which might be refused and consent to move a lamppost and a tree. The Council explained the tree service had said it would oppose the removal of the tree.
  3. The Council was due to visit last week to do a feasibility study to see if it would be possible to build a drive.
  4. Mrs X says a council is required to award a DFG if the work is needed.


  1. I will not start an investigation because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council. Mrs X chose to buy the property knowing there is no drive and the car can only be reached by walking through a footpath. I appreciate she did not know her partner’s mobility would deteriorate but this deterioration cannot remove the practical problems of building a drive.
  2. The Council cannot, at the moment, award a DFG because Mrs X does not own the land and there are significant concerns about planning permission, the impact on neighbours, and the removal of street furniture. It is correct to say that a DFG must be awarded if needed but that does not remove the requirement to satisfy all the other legal and practical considerations.
  3. I also will not start an investigation because the Council is still working with Mrs X to see whether it would be possible to provide a drive.

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Final decision

  1. I will not start an investigation because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council and because the Council is still exploring the situation with Mrs X.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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