Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 27 Mar 2020
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: Mrs X complains about the way the Council assisted her with her council tax account. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint because there is no evidence of fault by the Council causing significant person injustice to Mrs X. This is also a matter for the Information Commissioner’s Office.
- Mrs X complains about the way the Council assisted her with her council tax account.
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 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)
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered the comments of the complainant and the Council and the complainant has commented on the draft decision.
What I found
- Mrs X says that she telephoned the Council in December 2019 and asked the Council officer about her council tax account. She says that the officer asked for her council tax reference number (which she did not have to hand).
- The Council says that personal data laws require that the Council firmly establish the identity of a caller before releasing personal details.
- I am satisfied that the Council’s request for the information was not administrative fault and nor do I consider that any significant injustice arose from this.
- Further, any dispute about the level of information needed in such situations is a matter for the Information Commissioner’s Office.
- I do not intend to investigate this complaint because there is no evidence of fault by the Council causing significant injustice. This is also a matter for the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman