Swindon Borough Council (20 007 043)

Category : Children's care services > Other

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 23 Feb 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Council was at fault for a delay in carrying out actions it had agreed with Mrs B in response to her complaint. It has agreed to update her on these actions, and to apologise. It has also agreed to make a symbolic payment of £100 to recognise the injustice caused to Mrs B by the delay.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I refer to as Mrs B, complains that, after the Council upheld her child protection complaint, it failed to carry out the agreed remedial actions.

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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’. If there has been fault which has caused an injustice, we may suggest a remedy. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26(1) and 26A(1), as amended)
  2. If we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)
  3. Under the information sharing agreement between the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman and the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), we will share this decision with Ofsted.

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information from Mrs B and the Council. Both parties had an opportunity to comment on my draft decision. I considered any comments received before making a final decision.

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What I found

  1. In December 2018, Mrs B complained to the Council about how it carried out child protection procedures in respect of her husband’s children.
  2. The Council considered the complaint at the first two stages of the three-stage Children Act 1989 complaints procedure.
  3. At stage 2, in April 2020, the Council upheld all of Mrs B’s complaints, apologised, and offered remedies, including a payment of £250 to recognise a delay to the stage 2 response. It also said it would write to her again within three months to update her on the other actions it had agreed in response to her complaint.
  4. The Council told Mrs B that, as it had upheld her complaint in full, she should approach the Ombudsman if she was dissatisfied with the outcome.
  5. Mrs B approached the Ombudsman in October, and complained that the Council had failed to do what it had said it would do in April. She said she had not received the update letter, and had not received the payment.
  6. Having considered the information provided by the Council, I have found that it was at fault.
  7. The Council says a communication error led to Mrs B not receiving the payment last year. It says it did not monitor whether the agreed actions had been carried out because it focused primarily on frontline services during the coronavirus lockdown. It made the agreed payment to Mrs B in January 2021, following my enquiries.
  8. The Council says it proposes to write to Mrs B to update her on the actions it agreed in response to her complaint (as it said it would at stage 2). It also proposes to apologise for the further delay in writing to her and in making the remedy payment.
  9. The Council’s proposals broadly remedy Mrs B’s injustice from the further delay after April 2020. However, to fully remedy her injustice, it should make a further symbolic payment of £100.

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Agreed actions

  1. The Council has agreed to write to Mrs B, updating her on the actions agreed in response to her complaint, and apologising for the delay in carrying out these actions.
  2. The Council has also agreed to make a symbolic payment of £100 to recognise the inconvenience caused to Mrs B by the delay.
  3. These actions should be completed within six weeks of this decision statement.

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Final decision

  1. The Council was at fault for a delay in carrying out actions it had agreed with
    Mrs B in response to her complaint. The agreed actions remedy her injustice.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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