Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 16 Mar 2018
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Council has agreed to put Mr and Mrs J’s complaint about their grandson’s social worker through the statutory complaints process for complaints about children’s services. So the Ombudsman should not consider the matter further at this stage.
- Mr and Mrs J complain about their grandson’s social worker.
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 provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we are satisfied with the actions a council has taken or proposes to take. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(7), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered the information Mr and Mrs J provided with their complaint, and information provided by the Council about the progress of the complaint through the complaints procedure.
What I found
- Mr and Mrs J care for their grandson. There is a supervision order in place, so the Council has more involvement in the arrangement than would usually be the case. Mr and Mrs J are unhappy with the actions of their grandson’s social worker. They have complained to the Council twice, and both times the Council has responded using its corporate complaints procedure.
- The law sets out a different procedure for considering complaints about children’s services. This includes complaints about how supervisors perform their duties where a supervision order is in force. So the Council should have considered Mr and Mrs J’s complaints using this procedure.
- The procedure has three stages. The Council’s consideration of the complaint to date means that it should now consider Mr and Mrs J’s complaint at stage 2. At stage 2, the Council appoints an investigating officer, and an independent person who oversees the investigation. If a complainant is unhappy with the outcome of the stage 2 investigation, they can ask for a stage 3 review.
- It is usually in everybody’s best interests for a complaint to complete this procedure before we consider a complaint. The Council has now agreed to take Mr and Mrs J’s complaint through the correct procedure, starting at stage 2. So there is nothing more the Ombudsman can achieve at this stage. Mr and Mrs J can contact us again if they remain unhappy after stage 3 of the procedure.
- The Council has agreed to take Mr and Mrs J’s complaint through the statutory procedure for complaints about children’s services, starting at stage 2.
- The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint, because the Council has agreed to take satisfactory action towards resolving it.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman