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Ombudsman issues guide for dealing with children’s statutory complaints

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman is today launching a new guide to help local authorities handle complaints under the children’s services statutory complaints process.

Free to download, the short guide shares the lessons from previous investigations about how councils should apply the regulations and statutory guidance. Being the area in which the Ombudsman receives the most queries from local authorities, it addresses the common questions received.

For complaints about many areas of children’s services, there is a statutory, three-stage complaints procedure local authorities must follow. Common questions answered in the guide include basic issues around what areas come under the statutory process along with more detailed questions about young people’s consent, court action, delays and deadlines, and statements of complaint.

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

“We have published this guide to help local authorities navigate the process, and avoid some of the pitfalls we have seen in previous investigations. It is not uncommon for us to find issues with complaint handling when we investigate cases about children’s services – and we receive many questions from councils about how to follow the process.

“Our answer is the statutory complaints process is set out in law so we expect councils to follow the guidance and regulations as they stand, and will hold them to account should they not do so.

“Where they have concerns about the effectiveness of the statutory process, councils have an opportunity to raise those in the Government’s review of children’s services – something which we intend to contribute to.”

Article date: 18 March 2021