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Reading Borough Council (19 019 648)

Category : Environment and regulation > Trading standards

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 21 Feb 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint that the Council had unreasonably failed to pursue an allegation that an insurance company based in its area had refused to make payments under an insurance policy. This is because there is no sign of fault by the Council regarding this matter.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I shall call Ms X, complained about the Council’s Trading Standards service’s failure to investigate her complaint against an insurance company (‘the company’) based in its area. Ms X said the company had refused to pay her claim under an insurance policy she had taken out with another firm the company had later taken over.

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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 X provided with her complaint.

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What I found

  1. In 2019 Ms X contacted the Council and asked it to investigate her complaint about the company’s failure to pay her claim on an insurance policy. Ms X felt the Council should make the company pay her claim.
  2. The Council passed the matter to its Trading Standards service to respond. But Trading Standards said it could not pursue Ms X’s case as the Council had no power to force the company to make payments. Trading Standards also advised Ms X on how else she could pursue her complaint, for instance, by going to the Financial Conduct Authority.
  3. Ms X does not accept the Council’s view or advice. But we do not have grounds to investigate her complaint about this matter because there is no sign of fault by the Council.
  4. In particular I consider the Council is correct in saying it does not have the power to investigate or remedy Ms X’s complaint against the company. In addition I consider the Council gave Ms X suitable and comprehensive advice about the other ways in which she could pursue her complaint issues.

Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate Ms X’s complaint about the Council’s failure to look into her allegation that an insurance company had unreasonably failed to make payments to her under one of its policies. This is because there is no sign of fault by the Council regarding this matter.

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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