Decision : Not upheld
Decision date : 25 Aug 2021
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: Mr and Mrs X complained the Council took too long to carry out a parent-carer assessment. They also complained about subsequent difficulties with direct payment arrangements. We have discontinued this investigation at Mr and Mrs X’s request because the Council has agreed to consider the matter under its statutory children’s complaints procedure.
- Mr and Mrs X complain the Council took too long to carry out a parent-carer assessment. They also complain about subsequent difficulties with direct payment arrangements.
- They say this has caused significant distress and inconvenience to the family.
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)
How I considered this complaint
- I spoke to Mrs X and made written enquiries of the Council. Before I considered the Council’s response, Mrs X withdrew the complaint.
- Mr and Mrs X and the Council had an opportunity to comment on my draft decision.
What I found
The statutory complaints procedure for complaints about Children’s Services
- The Children’s Act 1989 sets out the complaint procedure where a child or young person is unhappy with the actions of Council’s children’s services.
- The statutory procedure has three stages. Stage one gives a council chance to resolve a complaint informally. If it cannot do this, then at stage two it must appoint an Investigating Officer (IO) and an Independent Person (IP), who oversees the investigation. The IO produces a report with their findings and the IP produces a report commenting on the investigation. The Council must then respond to that.
- If a complainant remains dissatisfied, they can ask for a stage three review. A panel made up of three people independent of the Council hears the review. The panel will consider the grounds for dissatisfaction with the outcome of the stage two investigation and may recommend the Council take further action.
- After I issued my enquiries to the Council, Mrs X contacted me. She said the Council had agreed to include her complaint as part of another, ongoing complaint about related matters already being considered under the statutory procedure.
- She confirmed she no longer wanted the Ombudsman to consider her complaint.
- The Council has confirmed its agreement to include the matters complained about at stage two of the statutory children’s complaints procedure.
- For this reason, I have discontinued this investigation to allow the Council the opportunity to investigate and respond to the complaint.
- If Mr and Mrs X are not satisfied with the Council’s final response to the complaint, they can make a new complaint to the Ombudsman.
- I have discontinued this investigation at the request of the complainants.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman