Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 09 Sep 2021
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint that the Council has not provided financial support from 2010 after the complainant became responsible for looking after his grandchild. This is because it is a late complaint.
- The complainant, whom I refer to as Mr X, complains the Council will not provide financial support, for caring for his grandchild, from 2010. He wants the Council to provide support from 2010 to 2016.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
- 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)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered information provided by Mr X and the Council. I also considered our Assessment Code and comments Mr X made in reply to a draft of this decision.
- Mr X has been responsible for the care of his grandchild since 2010. There were private court proceedings which led to Mr X being given a residence order. Mr X had a solicitor.
- Mr X asked the Council for financial support in 2016. The Council did a financial assessment and provided support from August 2016. Mr X did not, in 2016, ask for backdating to 2010 and he did not complain about the decision to provide support from 2016.
- In 2021 Mr X asked the Council to provide financial support from 2010. In response the Council said he had not asked for support in 2010 or said he was in financial hardship. It said he did not ask for backdated support in 2016. The Council decided not to provide backdated support.
- I will not start an investigation because this is a late complaint. Mr X says it was not until 2016 that he found out financial support was available. But, he did not ask for backdating to 2010 or complain about the decision to provide support from 2016. If Mr X thought he should be supported from 2010 then it is reasonable to expect that he would have pursued this in 2016 rather than waiting until 2021. Mr X says he has suffered some health issues and bereavements since 2016 but, as he was able to ask for support in 2016, then it is hard to see why he did not pursue backdating at the time or make an immediate complaint.
- I have not seen any good reason to accept such a late complaint. The Council has explained that it has limited records due to the time that has passed so it would be difficult to carry out an effective investigation. Mr X says the Council has a duty to keep records; this, however, does not alter my view that this is a late complaint. Mr X can make a new complaint to the Council if he thinks it has failed in its duty to keep records.
- Mr X also complains the Council initially said he did not have a residence order in 2010 but then said he did. Again, this does not affect my decision that this is a late complaint.
- I will not start an investigation because this is a late complaint.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman