Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman, children & education summaries 20 Feb 2020

All cases can be found at this link

London Borough of Sutton (19 009 970)
Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint about the Council’s actions relating to a tribunal appeal. This is because the law prevents the Ombudsman investigating a complaint where the complainant has appealed to a tribunal.

Cornwall Council (18 018 107)
Summary: Mr X and Miss Y complain about the way the Council handled providing support for their disabled son. They say this has caused distress, anxiety and inconvenience, and has added strain to the family. The Ombudsman upholds the parts of Mr X and Miss Y’s complaint about the statutory complaint investigation and delays in the complaint handling process. The Council will apologise to them and make a payment to reflect the injustice caused by the faults.

Oxfordshire County Council (18 016 841)
Summary: Mr and Mrs X complained about the Council’s failure to accept some of the findings of a children’s statutory complaints stage 3 review panel. On the evidence so far, the Council was at fault in the way it removed two foster children from their care. The Council has already apologised which is sufficient to remedy the injustice its actions caused. There was no fault in the support the Council provided the couple prior to the children’s removal.

Medway Council (18 017 870)
Summary: The complainant alleges that the Council failed to properly protect his son when he raised concerns about the care being provided by the mother and that the Council was biased against him. This had a detrimental impact on the private legal proceedings involving issues of residency and contact. The Council has accepted the recommended actions to resolve the complaint. The Ombudsman is therefore ending his involvement.

Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council (18 006 248)
Summary: the Health and Care Professions Council found the social worker dealing with Ms X and her children in 2015 breached standards of conduct, performance and ethics, and his actions put Ms X at risk of harm. The Council has apologised and offered a payment of £1,000. I consider this a satisfactory response.

Coventry City Council (19 007 458)
Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint about the involvement of the Council’s children’s services with the complainant’s grandson. This is because the matters complained of are out of the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.

Plymouth City Council (19 010 261)
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Ms A’s complaint about the Council’s actions regarding her daughter. This is because there is no evidence of fault warranting an Ombudsman investigation.

Kingston Upon Hull City Council (19 010 842)
Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint about the actions of a social worker for the Council in relation to the complainant’s godson. This is because the matters complained or are outside of the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.

Cheshire East Council (19 008 540)
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about Council delays and procedural errors in its production of an Education Health and Care Plan. The full effects of those alleged faults will not be clear until the confirmed Education Health and Care Plan is known following a Tribunal.

Royal Borough of Greenwich (18 017 670)
Summary: The Ombudsman does not have jurisdiction to investigate Mr X’s complaint. This is because the complaint has been brought late and it is not possible, so long after the events, to reach a safe conclusion on the evidence available. In addition, Mr X appears to have an alternative legal remedy which it would be reasonable for him to exercise.

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council (19 001 917)
Summary: Mr F complains that following an allegation against him the Council wrongly told him he could not see his children until it had completed an assessment, even though he had parental responsibility. The Council was at fault in failing to explain that this was a recommendation rather than an instruction. The Council offered a partial remedy, including a change of procedures. It has agreed to make a further apology.

Plymouth City Council (19 005 661)
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Ms B’s complaint. Most of the issues she raises are too old, have been before a court, or are currently before a court. The Council has not yet had the opportunity to respond to the remaining complaint.

Essex County Council (19 009 485)
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint about what happened when the Council tried to visit the complainant’s grandchild who is under a child protection plan. This is because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council and the complainant could complain to the Information Commissioner. In addition, part of the complaint relates to the complainant’s employment which I cannot investigate.

London Borough of Waltham Forest (19 009 495)
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint that the Council delayed telling him of its decision to remove his new born baby into foster care and that it intends changing the case social worker. A court decided to remove the baby and the Council did not cause Mr X injustice because he was on notice of care proceedings due to the ‘pre-proceedings’ procedure. There is nothing to be achieved by investigation.

West Sussex County Council (19 009 631)
Summary: Miss X complained about how the Council dealt with her child’s case. We cannot investigate this complaint. This is because the Council has begun court proceedings, and we cannot investigate the start of court proceedings or what happens in court. Miss X should raise her concerns as part of those proceedings.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council (19 009 159)
Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint about the school that has been named in the Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP) for the complainant’s daughter. This is because the complainant has started an appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST), so the complaint is out of the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.

London Borough of Hounslow (17 018 529)
Summary: Mrs Z complains about the Council’s handling of the payment of the adoption allowance for her two children. She also complains about contact with their sibling and a savings account. There was fault by the Council in requesting copies of paperwork for the savings account, in reducing the adoption allowance without notice, in its calculation of the adoption allowance, in facilitating contact with one of the siblings and in its complaint handling. The Council will apologise where it hasn’t already and will review its procedures.

Sheffield City Council (18 013 819)
Summary: The Council was at fault for failing to properly consider its discretionary powers in deciding not to provide a child arrangements order allowance to Ms B. Different parts of its policy are also contradictory about the extent of those discretionary powers. The Council has agreed to re-assess Ms B’s granddaughter’s needs and to make a new decision about Ms B’s allowance. It has also agreed to review its policy.

Nottinghamshire County Council (18 016 699)
Summary: Mrs X complains about the Council’s refusal to accept her and her husband to stage 2 of the process to become adoptive parents, causing distress. The Ombudsman finds no fault in the Council’s decision making process.

North Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council (19 009 713)
Summary: Miss X complained about how the Council handled her children’s cases. We cannot investigate this complaint because it relates to court proceedings, which are ongoing. Miss X should raise her concerns as part of the court process.

Cambridgeshire County Council (19 009 751)
Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint about information included in a report presented to the court regarding the care of the complainant’s grandchild. This is because the law prevents the Ombudsman from investigating any matter that forms part of legal proceedings.

Derbyshire County Council (18 013 904)
Summary: Mrs X complains the Council was at fault in the way it responded to her request for help with issues concerning her daughter, Z. She says this caused the family prolonged stress and meant they had to pay for private assessments of Z. The worker arrived at her views without procedural fault. However, one piece of advice was unwise, and the Council took too long to deal with Mrs X’s complaint. Its apologies are sufficient.

London Borough of Merton (19 000 103)
Summary: Miss C complains about the Council’s handling of a safeguarding issue which resulted in her children being placed on a child protection plan. Miss C says fault by the Council has caused her family considerable distress, particularly because her partner had to move out and could not see their children for a period. We have decided to end our investigation. This is because the Council has already provided a remedy for the issues Miss C complains about. Further investigation by the Ombudsman is unlikely to result in a different outcome.

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council (19 003 974)
Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint about the Council’s social services and its involvement with the complainant and his son. This is because the matters complained of are out of the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.

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