The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr B’s complaint about its handling of his applications for a Disabled Persons’ Freedom Pass for concessionary travel. The Council agreed to reimburse travel costs Mr B should not have had to pay and improve its procedures. We are satisfied with the action the Council has agreed to take, so there is no need for an investigation.
- Mr B says the Council has failed to respond to his complaint about its handling of his applications for a Disabled Persons’ Freedom Pass for concessionary travel on public transport, because of which he incurred travel costs he should not have.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse effect on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘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 are satisfied with the actions a council has taken or proposes to take. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(7), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered what Mr B said in his complaint and the Council’s response to it, and discussed the matter by telephone with Mr B.
What I found
- Mr B applied for a Freedom concessionary travel pass because of his disability. The Council sent his application for assessment but it went astray and the Council did not follow it up. Mr B made a second application which the Council also sent for assessment. It was refused but Mr B did not learn about the decision until much later. Meantime he moved areas and obtained a Freedom Pass where he now lives.
- The Council had not issued a final response to Mr B’s complaint when he complained to the Ombudsman. It completed its own investigation soon after, has accepted it was at fault, and offered a suitable remedy and service improvements.
- The Council has agreed to pay Mr B £132 to cover his avoidable travel costs, which Mr B has accepted is a suitable remedy for him.
- The Council has also agreed to:
- develop a system to track applications to avoid a recurrence;
- set times for handling applications so applicants know what to expect; and
- publish updated information on its website.
- The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr B’s complaint because we are satisfied the Council has agreed to take action which provides a suitable remedy for Mr B, and improves the service for others.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman