Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 05 Mar 2021
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about the support the Council gave his family. The events are more than 12 months old and there are no good reasons why the late complaint rule should not apply.
- The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, complains about the Council’s children services teams support to his family between 2007 and 2010.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We cannot investigate late complaints unless we decide there are good reasons. Late complaints are when someone takes more than 12 months to complain to us about something a council has done. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended)
- We cannot investigate a complaint about the start of court action or what happened in court. (Local Government Act 1974, Schedule 5/5A, paragraph 1/3, as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered the information Mr X provided with his complaint. I considered Mr X’s comments on a draft version of this decision.
What I found
- Mr X says in 2010 he and his partner adopted two of his partner’s grandchildren. He says the Council failed to support his family both around the time of the adoption and when the children’s mother returned to Court to try and get the children returned to her in 2014. Mr X says the Council failed to assess the children’s needs properly before the 2010 adoption. He says it rushed the adoption, failed to provide promised respite care and related costs and support.
- Mr X says if the Council had supported him properly in the 2014 proceedings he would not have incurred legal costs.
- The Council told Mr X that it closed its case in 2010 as the children had moved to another area.
- We should not dis-apply the late complaint rule unless we have very clear reasons for doing so. I do not believe that there are because:
- I am not confident that there is a realistic prospect of reaching a sound, fair, and meaningful decision. This is particularly so because the Council closed its case in 2010 and the case was transferred to another Council since 2010. Also we cannot investigate any Council information given to the Court proceedings in 2014. We cannot investigate how the Council supported Mr X during those proceedings.
- I am not satisfied that Mr X could not reasonably be expected to have complained sooner. He says that he has not complained to us before now because he was not aware of our existence. But there is also no evidence he has consistently pursued his complaints with the Council.
- We will not investigate this complaint. This is because there are no good reasons why the late complaint rule should not apply.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman