Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 05 Jul 2019
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint about support provided by the Council to Mr J’s family. Support is now being provided by a different service provider and it is unlikely investigation by us would achieve more than this.
- Mr J complains about support provided by the Council to his family. He specifically complains about the conduct of the social worker working with the family, and he says support has only been given to his wife and stepchildren, not to him.
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 further investigation will lead to a different outcome. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered the information Mr J provided with his complaint. I have considered the information the Council provided when we asked about its consideration of the complaint. I have given Mr J the opportunity to comment on my draft decision.
What I found
- The Council became involved with Mr J’s family following a referral from the police. A social worker established a plan to work with the family, and held regular reviews of the plan. Other agencies were also involved.
- When Mr J complained about the social worker, her manager undertook to discuss the issues with her, and to consider finding another agency to work with the family. Another agency took over supporting the family from 1 March.
- The focus of Mr J’s complaint is the social worker. We investigate administrative fault by the Council as a corporate body, not professional conduct of individual officers. So we could only consider the administrative process followed here. If we found fault, we might recommend the Council considers a different way of providing support to the family.
- But the Council has already taken this action. So further investigation by the Ombudsman is unlikely to add anything to this.
- The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman