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Cambridgeshire County Council (17 018 195)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 16 Apr 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint about the production of two assessment reports about the complainant. This is because there is no worthwhile outcome achievable through investigation.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I refer to her as Mr B, says that:
    • Following referrals, social workers for the Council failed to conduct accurate assessments when producing reports about him; and
    • Although the major errors in the second assessment report were later corrected, the Council has refused to reimburse Mr B for the claimed costs.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
  2. 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)
  3. 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
  • it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the Council, or
  • there is another body better placed to consider this complaint. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information provided by Mr B and by the Council. I also sent Mr B a draft decision for his comments.

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What I found

  1. Mr B complains about the actions of the Council in relation to two referrals. I will not substantially consider his complaints about the first as it dates from 2015 and is made outside of our deadline of 12 months after the matter was known to the complainant.
  2. Mr B says that two of his issues relate to Child in Need meetings relating to 2015. He says that he was not informed about the meetings, and inaccurate reasons for his exclusion from both meetings have been recorded.
  3. Mr B says he only became aware of these issues recently. However, we will not investigate them as there is no worthwhile outcome that could now be achieved.
  4. Following the second referral, a social worker for the Council produced another assessment report about Mr B. H says that the social worker did not make the assessment properly, resulting in inaccuracies in the report.
  5. Mr B complained to the Council, and the main errors were corrected.
  6. Mr B asked the Council to reimburse him for his costs in making the complaint, but it refused, as it said compensation is not considered appropriate for bringing a complaint.
  7. Mr B has complained to the LGSCO about these matters.
  8. We will not investigate the content of the second assessment report or how it was produced. This is because the remedy for any inaccuracies is the correction of errors. This has been done, so there is no worthwhile outcome that further investigation would achieve.
  9. If Mr B has further concerns about data that is being held on him, in either assessment report, he has the right to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office, which is the body set up by parliament to consider such matters.
  10. Finally I have considered Mr B’s complaint about the Council’s refusal to compensate him for his costs in bringing the complaint, but I will not investigate this issue. This is because we are unlikely to find fault in the Council’s actions. We do not recommend the payment of costs for legal support or for bringing a complaint as the system was set up to be accessible without legal representation.

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Final decision

  1. Subject to any comments Mr B might make, my view is that the Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because we cannot achieve a worthwhile outcome for the complainant.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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