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North Yorkshire County Council (18 016 426)

Category : Children's care services > Fostering

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 12 Mar 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate Ms X’s complaint about the level of foster care payments the Council paid her. The events are from three years ago and she has not provided compelling enough reasons why it has taken her so long to complain.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Ms X, says the Council failed to pay her the correct fostering rate.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Ms X provided with her complaint and the Council’s replies to her which it provided. I considered Ms X’s comments on a draft version of this decision.

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What I found

  1. Ms X fostered a child between October 2015 and February 2016. She says the Council agreed to pay her an advanced or specialist fee as the child had advanced or specialist needs.
  2. The Council say Ms X complained in December 2015. It says it told Ms X to apply for advance carer status. It said if she remained unhappy she could complain. It said it next heard from Ms X about this issue in November 2018. Ms X complaint’s opening line says she had decided to ‘put in an historic complaint’.
  3. The Council rejected Ms X’s complaint. It said it did not look at complaints about events over 12 months old.
  4. Ms X replied to the Council but did not mention why she had delayed in complaining.
  5. Ms X has told us her complaint is now not that she should have had advanced or specialist fees. Instead she is claiming compensation or back payment for the work done whilst the child lived with her. She says she complained to us about this case after another case about a more recent placement had been upheld. She says she did not realise she could claim for back payment until that case finished.

Analysis

  1. We cannot investigate a complaint about events known to Ms X for more than 12 months unless there are compelling reasons to do so.
  2. Ms X’s claim for back payment mirrors the claims for advanced or specialist status. She was aware of it at the time in 2015.
  3. I am not persuaded that Ms X could not reasonably be expected to have complained sooner.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint. This is because there are no compelling reasons why the late complaint rule should not apply.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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