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Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council (22 001 381)

Category : Children's care services > Friends and family carers

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 09 Jun 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint the Council failed to financially support a placement in late 2016/early 2017 when he cared for a grandchild. Mr X complains late and could have complained sooner.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complains the Council refuses to pay fostering allowances or the equivalent for the months he cared for ‘grandchild A’ from November 2016. Mr X disagrees with the Council’s view the placement was a private family arrangement. He says a social worker asked him to keep grandchild A for a longer period in November 2016. Mr X says due to the lack of financial support he asked the Council to take his grandchild into care. Mr X says the Council should apologise, pay compensation, and provide training to officers.
  2. Mr X complains the stage 2 statutory complaint investigation report was biased in favour of the Council and ignored evidence produced from his subject access request. Mr X says the investigation officer walked out of the stage 3 panel when asked questions which resulted in the panel not being able to deal with all the complaint.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
  2. 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 information provided by the complainant and the Council including the complaint replies. I have discussed the complaint with Mr X and considered his reply to the draft decision statement. The Council has supplied the stage 2 adjudication reply to Mr X’s 2018 complaint regarding his care and financial support of another grandchild.

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My assessment

  1. I will not investigate this complaint for the following reasons:
  2. The law says the Ombudsman should normally investigate a complaint made within the ‘permitted period’ of 12 months (see paragraphs 3 and 4 above). Mr X complains late. He knew about the key events in 2016 and early 2017 and disputed the Council’s decision not to give financial support at the time. He did not challenge using the complaint procedure and complained to the Council in 2021. Mr X tells me he cared for grandchild A for 11 weeks.
  3. I will not exercise discretion to investigate because Mr X could have complained sooner:
      1. Mr X could have complained in 2017/18. In 2018 the Council replied to Mr X’s complaint that it should have financially supported him caring for ‘grandchild B’ from June 2017. The Council’s stage 2 reply to him, dated 24 September 2018, included the option of contacting the Ombudsman (telephone number provided). Mr X could have complained to us at that time.
      2. Mr X says he complained in 2021 because he saw one of our reports criticising a council in similar circumstances. He also obtained the subject access request information showing one social work team thought the placement might not be private fostering. That does not alter the position the complaint is about a dispute which Mr X knew about in 2016/17.
  4. Mr X’s complaint to the Council, in July 2021, went through the children’s statutory complaint procedure without significant delay. The complaint was not upheld. I will not investigate the complaint findings because the evidence is outside the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction for the reasons explained above. However, I will draw to the attention of the Council the practice issuing which arose at the stage 3 panel when the investigating officer left the meeting.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint the Council failed to financially support a placement in late 2016/early 2017 when he cared for a grandchild. Mr X complains late and could have complained sooner.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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