Ombudsman issues rare further report into council’s failings

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has criticised the Council of the Isles of Scilly for failing to comply with recommendations made in an earlier report.

The report, originally issued in August 2017 but not published because of fears the family might be identified, found the council at fault and the Ombudsman recommended it provide a number of remedies to the family.

The council was given three months to comply with those recommendations, but has failed to do this and so the Ombudsman has issued a rare further report against the council.

Issuing a further report is one of the ways the Ombudsman holds local authorities to account by highlighting their failings publicly. This is the first time since 2016 the Ombudsman has had to take such a step.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:

“While I appreciate the council is in a difficult position with regards to members discussing the original report in public, the council still needs to keep the communication channels open with my office and confirm its intended actions.

“Since we chased the council about its response to the initial report it has - albeit belatedly- sent an apology to the family and provided part of the financial remedy recommended.

“The council’s failure to respond properly to the original report has shown a great deal of disrespect to the family, and can have only compounded their sense of injustice. I am disappointed it took prompting and the threat of this further report for the council to provide part of the remedy it had previously agreed. It still needs to provide evidence it has complied with other aspects of the original recommendations, including for their loss of services, which were clearly set out in the original report and have remained consistent throughout our regular correspondence with the council.”

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s role is to remedy injustice and share learning from investigations to improve local public, and adult social care, services.

In this case, the council should ensure it complies with the recommendations set out in the original report and provide evidence of this without delay.

It should also pay the family an additional £250 for the injustice caused by having to issue a further report.

The council should also lay the original report, and this further report before the authority if its intention is to refuse to comply with the recommendations of the original report and further recommendations.

Article date: 16 February 2018