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Bedford Borough Council (22 001 613)

Category : Education > Special educational needs

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 13 Jun 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint that the Council failed to properly communicate with the complainant and failed to inform her of her right of appeal against the Council’s assessment of her child’s needs. This is because the Council has taken appropriate actions in response to the issues raised and therefore, we could not add to its investigation.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I will call Mrs X, complains about the Council’s actions in relation to its assessment of her daughters needs. Mrs X says the Council’s communications were poor and it failed to inform her of her right of appeal against the Council’s Education Health and Care (EHC) plan. Mrs X says the Council’s actions caused her distress.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Ombudsman investigates complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We do not start or may decide not to continue with an investigation if we decide we could not add to any previous investigation by the organisation. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6))

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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. The Council carried out an assessment of Mrs X’s daughters Sepcial Educational Needs (SEN) and subsequently issued an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan which detailed how those needs would be met.
  2. Mrs X complained that the Council’s recent communications were poor, with a lack of updates and delayed responses to her enquiries. She also complained that the Council failed to inform her of her right of appeal against the content of the EHC plan.
  3. I will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint. The Council has apologised to Mrs X for its poor communication and explained this was due to a change of case officer and staff shortages during the Christmas period. It has also apologised for not informing Mrs X of her appeal rights when it issued her daughter’s EHC plan. It has since reissued the plan and therefore her right of appeal has been reinstated. I have considered the Council’s actions in response to Mrs X’s complaint and I consider it has provided an appropriate and proportionate response. Therefore, further investigation by the Ombudsman would not add anything to the Council’s complaint investigation.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint because we could not add to the Council’s complaint investigation.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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