Suffolk County Council (20 004 045)

Category : Children's care services > Other

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 19 Feb 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr F complains about his dealings with the Council in connection with the care of his young son, B. The Council has proposed an investigation by an independent investigator under special procedures for investigating complaints about children’s services. The investigation would focus on the needs of Mr F’s son. This is a good way forward.

The complaint

  1. Mr F complains about his dealings with the Council in connection with the care of his young son, B. The Council had concerns about B’s welfare. Mr F is unhappy with the Council’s response to his complaint.

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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 may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe there is another body better placed to consider the complaint. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered:
    • information provided by Mr F; and
    • information provided by the Council.
  2. I invited Mr F and the Council to comment on my draft decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr F complained to the Council about his dealings with social workers. A manager responded to his complaint. Mr F remained unhappy and complained to the Ombudsman.
  2. We contact the Council. The Council said it would like to offer Mr F a more detailed response to his complaint. The Council proposed an investigation by an independent investigator under special procedures for investigating complaints about children’s services. The Council said the investigation would focus on the needs of Mr F’s son.
  3. I consider this a good way forward. I proposed that I end the Ombudsman’s involvement and ask the Council to begin its investigation.
  4. Mr F said he would prefer the Ombudsman to investigate his complaint as he has lost faith in the Council. I have considered Mr F’s comments, but they have not changed my views. The Council proposes to appoint an independent investigator, so Mr F can have confidence in the investigation. If he is dissatisfied with the investigation, he can ask for a complaint review panel to consider his complaint at the final stage of the children’s complaints procedure. If Mr F remains unhappy after the Council has completed the children’s complaints procedure, he can complain to the Ombudsman again.

Agreed action

  1. The Council will investigate Mr F’s complaint under procedures for investigating complaints about children’s services (the Children Act 1989 complaints process).

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Final decision

  1. I have ended the Ombudsman’s involvement and the Council will investigate Mr F’s complaint under procedures for investigating complaints about children’s services.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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