Birmingham City Council (21 017 229)

Category : Adult care services > Disabled facilities grants

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 31 Mar 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about the outcome of his occupational therapy assessment in relation to his request for major adaptations to his home. This is because there is no sign of fault by the Council in how it carried out and decided the assessment.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, complains about the outcome of his occupational therapy (OT) assessment in relation to his request for adaptations via a Disabled Facilities Grant.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse effect on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start an investigation if the tests set out in our Assessment Code are not met. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
  2. We do not start an investigation if we decide:
  • there is not enough evidence of fault to justify investigating, or
  • we could not add to any previous investigation by the organisation. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6))
  1. We cannot question whether a council’s decision is right or wrong simply because the complainant disagrees with it. We must consider whether there was fault in the way the decision was reached. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by the complainant and the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. Disabled Facilities Grants are provided under the terms of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996. Councils have a statutory duty to give grant aid to disabled people for certain adaptations. Before approving a grant, a council must be satisfied the work is necessary, meets the disabled person’s needs, and is reasonable and practicable.
  2. The Council carried out an OT assessment in relation to Mr X’s request for major adaptation works via a Disabled Facilities Grant.
  3. The outcome of the assessment, which was discussed and agreed at OT panel, was that the most appropriate recommendation would be for the provision of a stair lift to enable Mr X to access his bedroom.
  4. Mr X decided not to proceed with this recommendation and he submitted an appeal. Mr X had requested a downstairs new build bedroom extension.
  5. The Council considered Mr X’s concerns and obtained further medical information from Mr X’s psychiatrist before reaching a decision at appeal stage. Having done so, it confirmed its original recommendation remained unchanged.
  6. Whilst I acknowledge Mr X is unhappy with the Council’s decision, I can see no sign of fault in the way it completed and decided his assessment. It considered the relevant information and took active steps at appeal stage to obtain further information from Mr X’s doctor before reaching a final decision. We are not an appeal body and we cannot question the merits of a council’s decision where there is no sign of fault in the way the decision was reached. This is essentially a matter of professional judgment for suitably qualified council officers to make.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint because there is no sign of fault by the Council.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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