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Hampshire County Council (19 016 305)

Category : Environment and regulation > Trading standards

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 09 Jan 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman does not have reason to investigate this complaint about the Council’s failure to pursue allegations of malpractice by an insurance company in its area. This is because there is no sign of fault by the Council.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I shall call Ms B, complained that the Council’s Trading Standards service had unreasonably declined to investigate her allegations about malpractice by an insurance company based in the Council’s area. In particular Ms B said the company had wrongly taken payments from her between 2000 and 2002 in respect of a home insurance policy. Ms B also alleged that mortgage fraud had been committed in her case.

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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 provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start an investigation if, for example, we believe it is unlikely we would find fault. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Ms B sent with her complaint.

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What I found

  1. Last year Ms B contacted the Council’s Trading Standards service and asked it to investigate her allegations about the insurance company. Ms B wanted the Council to prosecute the company because of what it did in her case.
  2. But the Council said it would not pursue Ms B’s allegations as it had no power to investigate complaints about insurance products or mortgage fraud.
  3. Instead the Council advised Ms B to approach the Financial Ombudsman Service (FSO) about her insurance issues because it is the FSO’s role is to deal with disputes between consumers and businesses that provide financial services, including insurance products.
  4. The Council also advised Ms B to contact the Financial Conduct Authority about her mortgage fraud complaint.
  5. Ms B was unhappy with the Council’s failure to pursue her concerns. But we have no reason to start an investigation of her complaint about this matter. This is because there is no sign of fault by the Council.
  6. In particular I do not see that the Council was at fault in saying it does not have the relevant power or authority to investigate Ms B’s allegations. I also consider the Council gave Ms B appropriate advice about other bodies who are better placed to deal with the issues she complained about.
  7. In any case, I do not see the Council could reasonably be expected now to look into events which took place around 20 years ago.

Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman does not have reason to investigate Ms B’s complaint about the Council’s failure to pursue her allegations of malpractice by an insurance company. This is because there is no sign of fault by the Council.

Investigator’s final decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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