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Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council (20 013 986)

Category : Housing > Other

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 16 Sep 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We have discontinued our investigation of this complaint. This is because the complainant has not provided enough information for us to proceed.

The complaint

  1. I will refer to the complainant as Miss W.
  2. Miss W complains the Council has:
  • failed to address an alleged rat infestation in neighbouring properties;
  • failed to provide an advocate for her, as agreed; and
  • failed to apply her requested reasonable adjustments.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Ombudsman investigates complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We do not start or may decide not to continue with an investigation if we decide there is not enough evidence of fault to justify investigating, we could not add to any previous investigation by the Council. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6))
  2. 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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I reviewed Miss W’s correspondence with the Council.
  2. I also shared a draft copy of this decision with each party for their comments.

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What I found

  1. Miss W has made numerous complaints to the Council over the course of several years. Among these were a complaint about an alleged rat infestation in neighbouring properties; that the Council has failed to provide her with an advocate, as it agreed to; and that it has not made the reasonable adjustments she has requested because of her disability. The Council responded to these complaints between June 2019 and January 2020.

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Analysis

  1. The law says a person should approach the Ombudsman within 12 months of becoming aware of the issue they wish to complain about. Miss W made her complaint to the Ombudsman in March 2021, which means it is late.
  2. We have the power to disapply the 12-month time limit, where we consider there are good reasons for the delay in making the complaint. I have asked Miss W to explain why she did not approach us with her complaint sooner, but she has not responded.
  3. We have previously investigated a complaint from Miss W about the Council’s provision of an advocate (case reference 18015172), which we did not uphold. Since then, the Council has explained that Miss W declined to work with an advocate from the organisation it had referred her to, and so it has instead set a personal budget for her to employ her own choice of advocate. It says Miss W has not taken up this offer.
  4. In addition to this, I note the Council wrote to Miss W to explain what adjustments it had agreed to make because of her disability, and what it did not consider to be reasonable.
  5. I have also sought to discuss these matters with Miss W. This is because I need to understand why she has not taken up the Council’s offer of a budget for an advocate, and what reasonable adjustments she considers the Council has failed to make. However, again, I have been unable to obtain information from Miss W about this.
  6. As Miss W has consistently declined to engage with me on her complaint, I do not have sufficient information to proceed with an investigation. I will therefore discontinue here.

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Final decision

  1. I have discontinued my investigation.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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