Warwickshire County Council (23 008 692)

Category : Children's care services > Other

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 01 Oct 2023

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: I uphold this complaint because the Council was at fault in delaying its response under the statutory process for complaints about children’s services. The Council has agreed to resolve the matter by providing a suitable remedy for the injustice the complainant has been caused by the delay.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I will refer to as Mrs X, complains about what she regards as fault in an assessment carried out by the Council and in the support offered to her family. She further complains that the Council has delayed responding to her 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’. 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. 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 provided by the complainant and the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. Mrs X made her complaint to the Council in April 2023. The complaint falls to be considered under the statutory procedure for complaints about children’s services. As the Stage 1 response was delayed, she asked to escalate the complaint to Stage 2 of the procedure in May 2023. She confirmed her wish to escalate in June 2023, after the Stage 1 response had been issued.
  2. Although the Investigating Officer has been in place since June 2023, Stage 2 has not yet concluded.
  3. If we were to investigate this complaint it is likely we would find fault causing Mrs X injustice, in that the Council has failed to conclude Stage 2 within the timescale set out in statutory guidance, causing her uncertainty and delaying resolution of her complaint.

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Agreed action

  1. We invited the Council to, within six weeks of the date of this decision:
    • complete Stage 2 of the statutory procedure, informing Mrs X of her right to escalate the complaint to Stage 3; and
    • offer to make a symbolic payment of £100 to Mrs X in recognition of the delay.
  2. To its credit, the Council has agreed to resolve the complaint by carrying out the actions set out above.

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Final decision

  1. We have upheld this complaint because the Council has agreed to resolve it early by providing a proportionate remedy for the injustice caused to Mrs X.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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