The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr A’s complaint that the penalty charge the Council has issued to him is excessive because he cannot achieve what Mr A wants.
- The complainant, who I will refer to as Mr A, complains that the Council was at fault in issuing him excessive penalty charges for taking his children out of school.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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 we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
- We have the power to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we think the issues could reasonably be, or have been, raised within a court of law. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered what Mr A has said in support of his complaint.
What I found
- Mr A says he took his two children out of school for a trip abroad. The Council issued his family fines totalling £240. He has paid £120 but regards the total as excessive. He wants the Council to waive the rest of the charge.
- The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr A’s complaint. The Council has the power to issue penalty charges and Mr A accepts that he took his children out of school. It is not for the Ombudsman to express a view on whether the Council should have issued the penalties and there are no grounds for him to ask the Council to waive the unpaid charge. He cannot therefore achieve what Mr A wants.
- If Mr A feels the Council was at fault in issuing the penalties, he had the option of declining to pay them. If the Council had decided to prosecute him he could have made his case against the penalties in court. The Ombudsman will not intervene.
- The Ombudsman will not investigate the complaint because he cannot achieve what Mr A wants.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman