Decision : Upheld
Decision date : 11 Sep 2019
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: Mr X complained about the Council’s failure to take sufficient action over his Trading Standards complaint. The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council which would warrant an investigation.
- The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, complains about the Council’s failure to pursue his complaint about a trading standards issue concerning a company which ceased trading. He says the Council should have taken more action against the company.
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:
- it is unlikely we would find fault, or
- it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the Council, or
- it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome.
(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered all the information which Mr X submitted with his complaint and he has commented on the draft decision.
What I found
- Mr X made a complaint to Citizens Advice Consumer Service (CACS) when he received no service from a window company which failed to do work he had ordered. CACS advised him to contact the Insolvency Service because the company had ceased trading. It also referred his complaint to the Council’s Trading Standards unit and that of the Council where the company was based.
- The trading standards unit had no reason to contact Mr X because the company had ceased trading and it was simply notified of the complaint to add the details to the national database for future use. Mr X believed the Council was actively pursuing the company and complained when he found the service was not involved.
- The company was subsequently investigated by another council following further complaints and contact from the Police. Mr X feels his Council should have taken this action. The Council has explained to Mr X that it had no further information to pursue the company and the Council which is investigating the recent allegations has evidence from the Police which was not given to it following his earlier complaint.
- There is no evidence that the Council failed to follow the correct procedure when notified of his complaint. Mr X was given correct advice by the Consumer Service but his expectations of the Trading Standards authority were misplaced in these circumstances.
- The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council which would warrant an investigation.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman