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Sheffield City Council (18 017 102)

Category : Housing > Allocations

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 22 Mar 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr B’s complaint about the Council reducing his housing priority band from Band D to Band E. Further consideration of the complaint is unlikely to find fault with the way the Council made its decision.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mr B, complains the Council has reduced his housing priority from Band D to Band E, after he refused three offers of accommodation. Mr B wants the Council to reinstate his previous Band D status.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints of injustice caused by ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We cannot question whether a council’s decision is right or wrong simply because the complainant disagrees with it. We must consider whether there was fault in the way the decision was reached. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3), as amended)
  2. 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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered Mr B’s complaint, the Council’s decision and review letters and the Council’s housing allocations policy. I sent a draft decision to Mr B and invited comments before I made my final decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr B was in priority Band D for housing. He says he needs a bath in any property he moves to as he suffers from back problems and sciatica. Mr B made successful bids for three properties but then turned them down because they did not have a bath.
  2. The Council’s housing allocations policy says at 6.7: ‘If you are in the General Needs Band D and you refuse three reasonable offers of accommodation within a 12 month period, you will be placed in diminished Band E for 12 months. Any change of circumstances during that period will be considered. After this period you can request to be returned to the General Needs Band D with a revised effective date…’
  3. Mr B does not consider he has turned down three ‘reasonable’ offers of accommodation because the properties had no baths.
  4. The Council considered Mr B’s comments before it placed him in Band E. The Council considered that as Mr B had entered bids for the properties himself and the details explained there were wet rooms and no baths, these counted as reasonable offers. Mr B asked for a review of the decision and the Council considered this. The Council confirmed it would move Mr B to Band E.
  5. While Mr B is unhappy with this decision, the Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. It is not the Ombudsman’s role to say in which Band the Council should place Mr B. The Ombudsman can only criticise the Council if its decision to place him in Band E was made with fault. Further consideration of the complaint is unlikely to find fault because the Council gave Mr B an opportunity to comment on its proposal and considered his response before making its decision. The Council considered its housing allocations policy and explained why it considered the offers were reasonable. The policy allows the Council to make the decision it has made. The Council considered Mr B’s review when he made it and provided clear reasons for remaining with the same decision. There are no reasons for the Ombudsman to criticise the way the Council has made its decision

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because further consideration of the complaint is unlikely to find fault with the way the Council has made its decision.

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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