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Bristol City Council (19 019 142)

Category : Adult care services > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 25 Mar 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The complaint is about the Council not replying to a letter. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint because the Council has now agreed to reply.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complains the Council did not reply to a letter.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We can decide whether to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)
  2. 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 the fault has not caused injustice to the person who complained, or the injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Mr X provided and discussed the complaint with him. I made written enquiries of the Council and considered its response. I shared my draft decision with Mr X and considered his comments on it.

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What I found

  1. In June 2019 Mr X sent the Council a formal complaint about matters arising from the social care needs of his sister Mrs Y. Sadly, Mrs Y died in 2020.
  2. The Council’s response in August 2019 said that if Mr X was unhappy with the response he could contact the Council within 20 working days and the Council ‘may agree to a review of your complaint by a senior manager.’
  3. Within 20 working days, Mr X wrote to the Council on 5 September 2019 setting out points on which he was dissatisfied with the Council’s complaint response. He did not receive a reply to that letter or to a subsequent chasing letter.
  4. One point in Mr X’s complaint correspondence with the Council related to the possible significant financial impact on Mrs Y of the Council’s actions. Mr X told me that matter has since been resolved in Mrs Y’s favour.
  5. When I contacted the Council about this, the Council stated it did not appear to have received the correspondence but, now that it was aware of the matter, it was willing to review the complaint.
  6. I do not expect we could reach a clear enough view about what happened to the correspondence. In any event, it would be disproportionate to pursue that as the important point is the Council is now willing to deal with Mr X’s letter of 5 September 2019.
  7. I do not consider the substantive points in Mr X’s letter to the Council suggest he or anyone else suffered a significant injustice either from the Council’s actions that led to the complaint.
  8. For these reasons, I consider the Council’s offer to deal with the letter of 5 September 2019 is an appropriate way forward. When Mr X replied to my draft decision he told me he agreed with my view.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because the Council’s offer to deal with the letter is an appropriate resolution and the underlying substantive matters do not disadvantage Mr X significantly enough for the Ombudsman to investigate.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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