London Borough of Camden (23 013 685)

Category : Other Categories > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 23 Jan 2024

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate Mr K’s complaint about being kept waiting for nearly three hours to speak to the Council by telephone. This is because there is insufficient evidence of Mr K suffering a significant enough injustice to warrant our involvement.

The complaint

  1. The complainant (Mr K) complains about the length of time it has taken him to contact the Council by telephone. He refers to occasions where it has taken nearly two hours to be connected to a Council representative, and another where he was placed on hold for 40 minutes. Separately, Mr K complains about the length of time the Council has taken to update his wife’s surname so she has the correct documents to open a bank account. He wants the Council to hire more staff so it can resolve issues quicker.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate 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 continue an investigation if we decide there is not a significant enough injustice to justify our involvement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended, section 34(B)).
  2. We may investigate complaints made on behalf of someone else if they have given their consent. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26A(1), as amended)
  3. The law says we cannot normally investigate a complaint unless we are satisfied the organisation knows about the complaint and has had an opportunity to investigate and reply. However, we may decide to investigate if we consider it would be unreasonable to notify the organisation of the complaint and give it an opportunity to investigate and reply. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(5), section 34(B)6).

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by the complainant and the Council. I also considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. We do not investigate a complaint unless there is good reason to believe the complainant has suffered a significant personal injustice as a direct result of the actions or inactions of a council. Though I recognise the alleged service failure may be frustrating, there is insufficient evidence it has caused Mr K serious loss, harm or distress. We will not therefore investigate as there is insufficient evidence of an injustice to warrant our involvement.
  2. Separately, Mr K complains about a matter on behalf of his wife. However, we cannot investigate a complaint on behalf of another person without their written consent. Even if we had consent, the Council would first need an opportunity to investigate the issues and there is no evidence of it receiving a complaint from Mr K’s wife to do so. We cannot therefore investigate this part of the complaint.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mr K’s complaint because as there is insufficient evidence of an injustice to warrant our involvement.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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