Essex County Council (19 004 968)

Category : Children's care services > Fostering

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 08 Jul 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint about a delay in closing a foster care placement. There is no significant injustice caused to Mrs X requiring a remedy.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mrs X, says the Council delayed by four weeks in closing a foster care placement.

Back to top

The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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:
    • the fault has not caused injustice to the person who complained, or
    • the injustice is not significant enough to justify the cost of our involvement, or
    • there is another body better placed to consider this complaint. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

Back to top

How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Mrs X provided with her complaint which included the Council’s reply. I considered Mrs X’s comments on draft versions of this decision.

Back to top

What I found


  1. Mrs X fostered child Z. In August 2017, Z voluntarily moved out of her home. The Council kept Z’s placement open at Mrs X’s home because it was not clear what the long term plan should be. It continued to pay her fee.
  2. In December 2017, Z made an allegation against Mrs X’s biological child. The Council closed Z’s placement with Mrs X a month later, in January 2018.
  3. Mrs X complained. She said the Council should have closed Z’s placement immediately. She says the month’s delay was professional misconduct. She says leaving the placement open risked Z being able to return to a family he had made an allegation against. She says this fuelled his allegation.
  4. The Council in reply agreed it should not have delayed. It agreed to not recoup an overpayment of allowances from Mrs X.
  5. Mrs X says the Council has been inconsistent in its reasons for delaying in closing the case. She says it has back tracked on its agreement it should not have delayed.
  6. Mrs X also complained Z’s biological mother texted her in August 2017 in a way Mrs X found above and threatening.
  7. Mrs X says she delayed complaining until now because a Police investigation into the allegations against her child only finished in April 2019.


  1. It is unlikely our investigation could achieve more than the decision to not recoup an overpayment.
  2. The government set up the Health and Care Professions Council to consider professional misconduct allegations. They are better placed to consider if this happened in this case.
  3. There is no significant injustice caused to Mrs X by the Council’s delay. Z did not return home and his allegation being fuelled is speculation.

Back to top

Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because there is no outstanding significant injustice which justifies an investigation.

Back to top

Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

Print this page

Privacy settings

LGO logogram

Review your privacy settings

Required cookies

These cookies enable the website to function properly. You can only disable these by changing your browser preferences, but this will affect how the website performs.

View required cookies

Analytical cookies

Google Analytics cookies help us improve the performance of the website by understanding how visitors use the site.
We recommend you set these 'ON'.

View analytical cookies

In using Google Analytics, we do not collect or store personal information that could identify you (for example your name or address). We do not allow Google to use or share our analytics data. Google has developed a tool to help you opt out of Google Analytics cookies.