Durham County Council (23 009 643)

Category : Adult care services > Disabled facilities grants

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 24 Oct 2023

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s decision to reject the complainant’s application for a disabled facilities grant. We have not seen enough evidence of fault in the Council’s actions.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, I shall call Ms X, complains about the Council’s decision to refuse her application for a disabled facilities grant. She says the Council’s suggested alternatives restrict her independence, are too expensive and cause her physical pain.

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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 Ms X.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. A disabled facilities grant (DFG) is a scheme which enables people with a qualifying disability who need adaptations in their home to help them remain in their home. They are mandatory and must be awarded if the applicant meets the qualifying conditions to have adaptations carried out so they can move safely around their home.
  2. Ms X asked about applying for a DFG and the Council carried out a housing occupational therapy assessment. The Occupational Therapist (OT) noted Ms X wanted a DFG to construct a drive in her front garden to enable her to park outside her house. Ms X advised she has difficulty parking outside her house because of the narrow streets. She confirmed shopping and walking her dogs is difficult if she is not parked outside her home. The OT told Ms X she would discuss the matter with her manager.
  3. The Council confirms the OT sought advice from her manager. It also says the manager sought opinion from other suitably qualified colleagues.
  4. The Council noted Ms X says she does not do her shopping online because the foods she needs due to her dietary requirements are not always available online. And she finds online shopping unreliable. Also, Ms X confirmed she walks her dogs every other day but says they should be walked daily, and she cannot afford a dog walker.
  5. Having considered Ms X’s request, noted her needs and visiting her at home, the Council decided it could not award a DFG to fund a driveway. It says Ms X’s needs can be met by alternative means such as online shopping or having goods delivered in bulk thereby allowing her to go out for reduced amounts of goods.
  6. The Council understood Ms X’s dogs need to be walked, however it explained it cannot provide a DFG to fund a driveway for this reason.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Ms X’s complaint because we have seen no evidence that the OT’s assessment was carried out incorrectly or that the Council’s decision making process was flawed.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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