Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 18 Feb 2019
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: Mr X complains the Council removed his wife from the electoral roll. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely we will find fault in the Council actions.
- Mr X complains for his wife, Mrs X. He says the Council took her off the electoral roll. He wants the Council to apologise and compensate her for causing distress. And he wants the Council to make the online process for changing addresses more secure.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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 we believe:
- it is unlikely we would find fault
- it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the Council
- it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome
- we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants
(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered the information provided by Mr X. He commented on the draft version of this decision.
What I found
- The Council received a notification from the online digital portal that Mrs X had moved to a new address in Lewisham. It says the online registration for Mrs X at Lewisham was verified successfully. So, when it received notification of the move it had no reason to suspect any alleged fraudulent activity with the online registration form had occurred.
- The Council advised Mr X to contact the Police if Mrs X had not made the online change of address. And it confirmed Mrs X needed to re-register to be put back on the electoral register at her home address. She can do this online or using a paper form.
- The Council is not responsible for the digital online portal used to register or make changes to the electoral register. The Cabinet Officer controls and maintains it.
- The Council received notification from the government portal that Mrs X had moved. As the relevant checks would have been made during the online process the Council had no reason to question the change of address.
- The Council has also told Mrs X that to go back on the electoral register at her home address she needs to complete and online form, or request a paper form from the Council. It also advised Mr X to report the matter to the Police.
- I have seen no evidence of fault in the Council’s actions. It must to carry out changes when it received the notifications from the online portal. Any concerns Mr X has about this process should be raised with the Cabinet Office as this is the Government department which controls and maintains the portal.
- The Council has confirmed it has co-operated with the Police and that its only involvement in the matter was to remove Mrs X from the electoral roll.
- I will not investigate this complaint. This is because we are unlikely to find fault in the way the Council removed Mrs X from the electoral roll. And it is unlikely we can add to the Council’s investigation. we cannot achieve changes to the online digital portal because it is controlled by a central government department and is therefore outside our jurisdiction.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman