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Leicester City Council (20 007 044)

Category : Benefits and tax > Council tax support

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 05 Jul 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr X complains about the way council tax support correspondence is written by the Council. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint because the matter has been remedied and a right of appeal exists for any dispute about any decisions.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complains about the way council tax support correspondence is written by the Council.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we are satisfied with the actions a council has taken or proposes to take. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(7), as amended)
  2. The law says we cannot normally investigate a complaint when someone can appeal to a tribunal. However, we may decide to investigate if we consider it would be unreasonable to expect the person to appeal. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(a), as amended)
  3. The Social Entitlement Chamber (also known as the Social Security Appeal Tribunal) is a tribunal that considers housing benefit appeals. (The Social Entitlement Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered the comments of the complainant and the Council’s responses to the complaint. The complainant had had an opportunity to comment on the draft decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr X says that he received a letter in 2019 using terminology which he says would be very confusing to other claimants. The Council responded by explaining that letters are legally required to include a lot of information which may appear confusing to some. However, the Council says that the letters have since been amended now to make them clearer.
  2. I am satisfied that the Council has remedied the complaint by reviewing, and amending the letters. If Mr X disagreed with any decision made by the Council he had a right of appeal to a tribunal. The tribunal is an independent, expert body whose decisions are binding on the Council. I therefore consider that it would be reasonable to pursue an appeal in this case.

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Final decision

  1. I do not intend to investigate this complaint because the matter has been remedied and there was a right of appeal to a tribunal.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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