East Lindsey District Council (23 003 700)

Category : Adult care services > Disabled facilities grants

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 05 Oct 2023

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about alleged delay in the progression of work carried out under a Disabled Facilities Grant. There is not enough evidence of fault in the Council’s actions to justify an investigation.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, I shall call Miss X, complains for her father, whom I shall call Mr Y.
  2. Miss X says the Council left Mr Y without a functioning stairlift for five months. She says her father could not access suitable toilet or washing facilities. This caused a loss of dignity and anxiety.

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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 impact on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service but must use public money carefully. We do not start or continue an investigation if we decide there is not enough evidence of fault to justify investigating. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended, section 34(B))

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by Miss X including the Council’s responses to her complaint.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

What happened

  1. The Council confirms it logged a referral from the county council about the broken stairlift in October. The Council sent a letter asking for financial information 3 days later.
  2. It received bank statements just over a week late. However, it did not receive a completed assessment form. Further financial information was asked for in early November and an officer personally collected this from the family.
  3. The Council says is sent Mr Y a letter advising how much he need to contribute towards the stair lift and gave him an application form for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG). The completed forms were received from at the very end of November.
  4. Over following two weeks the DFG application was authorised by the Occupational Therapist and approved by the Council.
  5. In mid-December the Council write to Mr Y asking for the financial contribution before work could begin. As it did not receive a response it sent another letter just before Christmas. Following receipt of Mr Y’s financial contribution, the stairlift was installed mid-January.

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My assessment

  1. The Council received the referral in October and immediately progressed the case. The DFG process is not speedy and from referral to installation was approximately fourteen weeks including the Christmas period.
  2. There is no evidence of specific delay by the Council. The Ombudsman expects work approved under a DFG must be completed within 12 months of the council approving the application.
  3. The information from Miss X indicates Mr y was dealing with the County Council from August to October. Failure by the County Council to provide equipment or refer the case to the Council before October is not the Council’s fault.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Miss X’s complaint because there is not enough evidence of fault in the Council’s actions.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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