Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 31 Mar 2021
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We cannot investigate Mr X’s complaint about the Council’s assessment of him contained in a viability report. The report will be used as part of court proceedings and is therefore outside our jurisdiction.
- Mr X complains the Council produced a viability report saying he should not care for two children who are in foster care. Mr X says the report is not fair or objective. He says it defames him and could make it difficult should he want to foster in future. Mr X says the Council should tell the parties involved the report is invalid and do a new assessment.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We can decide whether to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), 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 have considered Mr X’s information and comments. I have read the viability report and the Council’s reply to the complaint.
What I found
- Late in 2020, the Council produced a viability report considering whether it could recommend Mr X to care for two of three children. The Council says the report is to help a court considering the long term plans for the children.
- The report makes no criticism of Mr X’s care of his own children. However, it explains why the Council considers he should not care for the children in care having regard to their situation, his knowledge of them, their history, and his comments.
- I cannot investigate Mr X’s complaint for the following reasons:
- The Ombudsman cannot investigate actions which are part of court proceedings (see paragraph 3 above). That includes the future of the children, the viability report and the Council’s assessment of Mr X. We cannot ask the Council to change the report.
- The report does not criticise Mr X’s general parenting and relates specifically to the children who are in foster care. Mr X’s concern about a future problem, should he wish to foster, is speculative and there is no injustice.
- The Ombudsman cannot investigate Mr X’s complaint about the Council’s assessment of him contained in a viability report. The report is part of court proceedings and is outside our jurisdiction.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman