Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 27 Mar 2018
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr B’s complaint that the Council has failed to offer him a property. This is because Mr B’s complaint about what happened before January 2017 is late and there are not good reasons to investigate it now and it is reasonable to expect Mr B to ask the Council to review its decision on his current housing application if he is not happy with it.
- The complainant, whom I shall call Mr B, complained that, although he has been bidding for social housing for 11 years, the Council has failed to offer him a property so he can relocate his family in suitable accommodation.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
- We cannot investigate late complaints unless we decide there are good reasons. Late complaints are when someone takes more than 12 months to complain to us about something a council has done. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended)
- 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, for example, we believe it would be reasonable for the person to ask for a council review or appeal. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered the information Mr B and the Council have provided and discussed my draft decision with him by telephone.
What I found
- Mr B told us he currently lives in a one bedroom property with his wife and two children. His wife suffers from a mental illness.
- Mr B has complained to the Council three times in 2017 and 2018. He said the Council had failed to help him to move for ten years. Mr B said he had been trying to relocate since 2008.
- In July 2010 the Council confirmed Mr B’s application was on the housing register in priority band C. In October 2010 the Council wrote to Mr B to confirm it had awarded Band C priority to his application to recognise the medical information he had submitted.
- The Council says Mr B previously applied for housing when it operated an on-line bidding system but it holds no history of bids he made since 2013 because it says he did not then qualify for rehousing.
- Mr B’s complaint to us about matters he was aware of more than 12 months before he first contacted us in January 2018 is late. I have not exercised discretion to look at what happened before January 2017 because Mr B could have contacted us sooner if he was dissatisfied with the way the Council had dealt with his application. We could not now investigate effectively what happened more than 12 months ago.
- The Council says Mr B applied to join its housing register in February 2018. The Council estimates it will take approximately six to eight weeks to assess his application. It says it will Mr B of the outcome of his application in March 2018. If Mr B is not happy with the outcome of his application, in accordance with the Council’s housing allocation policy, he can ask the Council for a review of its decision.
- It is reasonable to expect Mr B to ask the Council to review its decision on his application if he thinks there are reasons to do so. That is because the Council is best placed to resolve the matter in the first instance.
- The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because Mr B’s complaint about what happened before January 2017 is late and there are not good reasons to investigate it now and it is reasonable to expect Mr B to ask the Council to review its decision on his current housing application if he is not happy with it.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman