Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 12 Mar 2020
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Ms X’s complaint about the way in which a Council social worker handled a telephone conversation. This is because an investigation by the Ombudsman is unlikely to achieve the outcome Ms X wants or find fault causing a significant enough personal injustice.
- Ms X complains a Council social worker handled a telephone call in July 2019 in an unprofessional and insulting manner.
- Ms X wants the social worker to explain her actions towards her.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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 or continue with an investigation if we believe:
- it is unlikely we would find fault, or
- the injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement, or
- we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants, or
- it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome.
(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered Ms X’s complaint to the Ombudsman and the information she provided. I have written to Ms X with my draft decision and considered her response.
What I found
- Ms X complains about the way in which a particular social worker spoke to her over the telephone.
- Ms X has presented her version of the call and the Council has detailed its consideration of the call within its complaint response. It is evident from both submissions that a disagreement occurred during a heated conversation.
- We were not present during the call between Ms X and the social worker. The Ombudsman cannot take a view on the content of the call when we have not witnessed it.
- The Council’s investigation officer set out its understanding of the call. It is unlikely that further investigation would lead to the outcome Ms X wants as the Council has already provided an explanation of how it sees the conversation.
- The injustice to Ms X is not sufficient enough to justify our involvement in the complaint.
- Ms X says the Council has delayed and prevented her from going through the complaints process. It is not a good use of public resources to investigate complaints about complaint procedures, if we are unable to deal with the substantive issue.
- My decision is that the Ombudsman will not investigate her complaint about the way in which a social worker handled a telephone conversation. This is because an investigation by the Ombudsman is unlikely to achieve the outcome Ms X wants or find fault causing a significant enough personal injustice.
Investigator’s final decision on behalf of the Ombudsman
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman