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London Borough of Barnet (17 017 702)

Category : Children's care services > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 20 Mar 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Ms D’s complaints about the way the Council handled two careers meetings with her son. This is because it is unlikely we could achieve anything further or achieve a different outcome

The complaint

  1. Ms D complains about the way the Council handled two meetings with her son, X, who has autism.

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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:
    • it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the Council, or
    • it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information provided by Ms D and the Council. This included copies of the complaints correspondence.
  2. Ms D has had the opportunity to comment on a draft of this decision.

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What I found

  1. In November 2017, a meeting was arranged by a Council Officer and Ms D on behalf of her son, X, who has autism. This was to discuss career options for X.
  2. Ms D says that before the meeting, the Officer sent several emails to an incorrect address.
  3. Ms D says the Officer was late to the meeting, would not allow her to attend with X, and did not invite X’s job coach. After the meeting, Ms D says the Officer told her that he was unable to provide feedback because he had to immediately attend another meeting. Ms D says he then spent several minutes talking to the receptionist.
  4. Following the meeting, X discovered he had left his national insurance details behind. Ms D says this would not have happened if she had been able to attend with him.
  5. The Officer arranged a follow up meeting for the next day. Ms D says X waited for an hour but the Officer did not arrive.
  6. Ms D complained to the Council about these matters. The investigating officer (IO) at the Council said:
    • They had checked the Officer’s email account and he had only sent one email to Ms D which she had acknowledged;
    • The Officer had explained to Ms D he might be late for the meeting and the reasons why. However, the IO felt it might have been better if the Officer had arranged a more precise time;
    • The Officer felt the first meeting with X should be one to one to give them the opportunity to get to know each other. However, the IO considered it might have been more beneficial if the Officer had invited X’s job coach. The IO had spoken to the coach who said he was happy continue to work with X;
    • The Officer did stop at reception after the meeting but only to speak briefly to the security guard;
    • When Ms D told the Council that X had misplaced his national insurance card, the Officer found it the same day and returned it to Ms D; and
    • There had been a misunderstanding about the location of the second meeting and the Officer had waited downstairs whilst X had waited upstairs. The Officer had emailed Ms D twice during the hour he waited to see where X was. The Council apologised for the misunderstanding.
  7. The Council informed Ms D that it would continue to work with X to secure him a traineeship and it assigned a new worker to X.
  8. Ms D says she wants the Officer to apologise and to be disciplined for gross misconduct.

Analysis

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate Ms D’s complaint. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully.
  2. I do not consider we could achieve anything by investigating Ms D’s complaints or achieve a different outcome. The Council has investigated and provided an explanation for what happened. It has said where matters could have been handled better and has apologised for the misunderstanding over the second meeting. It has also assigned a different case worker to X. It is unlikely an investigation by the Ombudsman could achieve anything further.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely we could achieve anything further by investigating Ms D’s complaints or achieve a different outcome.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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