Birmingham to change complaints process following Ombudsman report
Birmingham City Council has agreed to revisit the way it responds to complaints about respite care for children with disabilities after it wrongly told families to appeal to the Ombudsman.
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) became concerned that the council and Birmingham Children's Trust were sending parents directly to its office to appeal the number of hours they were to receive for respite care, instead of responding to their concerns through the statutory Children’s Complaints Procedure.
The Ombudsman has made it clear to the council that it is not an appeals body.
The message was given to the council after a mother complained to LGSCO about the way the council handled her complaints about the respite it awarded for her teenaged son, who has challenging behaviour, autism, anxiety and communication difficulties.
Instead of dealing with the mother’s complaint through the statutory three-stage complaints process, it instead directed the mother to have her appeal “further reviewed by the LGO”.
During the investigation, the Ombudsman found 27 other families had been wrongly told to appeal to the LGSCO in the past year alone.
Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:
“The LGSCO looks at complaints about councils and care providers once those complaints have been through the local complaints process. We are not an appeals body, or a tribunal. It is not – and has never been in our near 50 years of existence – our role to decide how much respite parents should receive.
“I am concerned about the council’s lack of understanding of our role, and of its own duties under the statutory complaints procedure. By directing parents to my office instead of dealing with their complaints properly, the council has denied many families the opportunity to have their concerns looked at in the right way.
“I am pleased the council has accepted my recommendations and is already working to put in place an amended policy and appeals process to ensure any future complaints it receives are handled properly.”
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman remedies injustice and shares learning from investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services. In this case the council has agreed to apologise to the mother and explain why and how the panel reached its decision. It will also pay her £500 to acknowledge the time and trouble and uncertainty caused.
The Ombudsman has the power to make recommendations to improve processes for the wider public. In this case the council will now tell people who applied to the appeals panel since April 2021 that, if they are unhappy with the outcome of the panel decision, they can complain to the council under the statutory procedure.
It will also amend its complaints policy and appeals process to ensure those who raise complaints about children’s services have the opportunity to use the statutory complaints procedure.
Latest News from
Draft Public Service Ombudsman Bill laid in Parliament05/12/2016 12:37:21
A new complaints body will provide the public with greater confidence that their voices have been heard.
Councils reminded about good complaint handling following two Ombudsman investigations08/06/2023 16:30:00
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman is reminding local authorities about the importance of good complaint handling after it found significant issues in two councils’ procedures.
Doctors failed to spot cancer ‘red flags’ for a year05/06/2023 16:15:00
Doctors failed to diagnose a woman’s colon cancer for a year despite her having ‘red flag’ symptoms.
Ombudsman issues guide on temporary accommodation for homeless people01/06/2023 13:15:00
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) has issued a guide for those who work with some of the most vulnerable groups in society.
Council asked to repay father’s nursery fees following ombudsman investigation18/05/2023 14:10:00
Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council has been asked to partially reimburse the fees a father paid while his daughter was receiving free nursery care, after the Ombudsman found it did not ensure a company was providing transparent invoices.
Councils reminded of duties to investigate renters’ housing concerns11/05/2023 16:05:00
A recent Ombudsman investigation has highlighted local councils’ duties to investigate disrepair concerns in private rented accommodation.
Billing confusion prompts Barnet bailiff action04/05/2023 13:15:00
A catalogue of clerical confusion and billing errors led to a Barnet resident being unfairly threatened with court action for not paying her council tax, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.
Ombudsman condemns Leicester care company for threatening and abusive complaint response27/04/2023 11:05:00
A Leicester care provider who threatened a vulnerable elderly woman with bailiffs because she complained about the care her husband received, has been heavily criticised by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.
Leicestershire County Council to reimburse mother’s school transport costs following Ombudsman investigation20/04/2023 11:15:00
Leicestershire County Council has agreed to refund a mother’s school transport costs after the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found flaws in the way it handled her application.