The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) has released its latest round of decisions about child welfare complaints the watchdog received.
This time round the complaints appear to be focused on concerns about SEND provisions, and unlike previous months, very few complaints involve family court cases. This may be down to the ombudsman’s repeated warnings that it will not investigate the vast majority of such complaints, because, it says, they involve legal proceedings which the watchdog cannot interfere with.
The ombudsman also publishes this notice with each set of complaints it shares:
“Please note: our decisions are published six weeks after they are issued to councils, care providers and the person who has made the complaint. The cases below reflect the caselaw and guidance available at the time of issue and the individual circumstances of each case.”
Below are summaries and links to the complaints and their outcomes:
Surrey County Council (22 000 826)
Summary: Mrs X complained the Council failed to deliver provisions set out in her son, Y’s, Education, Health and Care plans between September 2020 and March 2022. She also complained about how it handled her complaint.
London Borough of Sutton (21 018 713)
Summary: We uphold Mx X’s complaint that the Council has failed to reply to their complaint within its Children Act statutory complaints’ procedure. The Council has now agreed to complete the next stage of the procedure.
Derby City Council (22 009 815)
Summary: We uphold Miss X’s complaint that the Council has failed to reply to her complaint within its Children Act statutory complaints’ procedure. The Council has now agreed to complete the procedure.
Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council (22 011 720)
Summary: We will not investigate Ms X’s complaint about the Council’s opinion of her child’s father’s care of her child. The Council’s assessment has formed part of legal proceedings.
London Borough of Richmond upon Thames (22 001 439)
Summary: Mrs B complained the Council failed to provide her grandchild, C, with education, and education, health, and care provision. We found fault with the Council. It failed to assess the amount of home tuition C could access and delayed providing cognitive behaviour therapy which in turn, delayed her return to school. This left C without any education provision for six weeks. We consider the financial remedy the Council offered during its complaint investigation a suitable remedy for the injustice caused to Mrs B and C.
Somerset County Council (22 004 107)
Summary: Mrs X complained the Council failed to arrange the provision set out in her son’s Education, Health and Care Plan. The Council was at fault. This meant Mrs X’s son missed out on specialist support and Mrs X had to go to time and trouble contacting the Council and specialist providers. The Council has agreed to apologise, pay Mrs X £2400 in recognition of the lost provision and £150 for the time and trouble she went to. It will also make improvements to its service to prevent the fault occurring again.
Hertfordshire County Council (22 005 273)
Summary: Ms X complains the Council did not put in place occupational therapy provision for her child. The Council was at fault for failing to put in place the occupational therapy provision specified in the child’s Education Health and Care plan. This caused injustice as the child did not receive the provision they were entitled to and Ms X spent a significant time pursuing this with the Council. The Council agreed to our recommendations to remedy the injustice caused.
City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council (22 006 554)
Summary: Mrs X complained that due to a series of errors her son was left without a suitable school placement when term began in September 2021 and was unable to start school until December 2021. The Council’s delays and failings in the admissions and EHC process amount to fault as does the Council’s failure to ensure Y received an education and the provision specified in his EHC plan between September and December 2021.These faults have caused Mrs X and Y an injustice.
Kent County Council (22 007 503)
Summary: The Council failed to consider the totality of school placement and transport costs when an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan was amended to name a new school. It therefore failed to consider eligibility for school transport for a child with an EHC plan by applying the correct legal test (‘the Dudley test’). This casts doubt on the decision reached. The Council will reconsider the transport application in line with the Dudley test and provide a fresh written decision and right of appeal.
Isle of Wight Council (22 007 960)
Summary: Miss B complained the Council failed to secure alternative educational provision for her son or the provision in his education, health and care plan when he was out of school. She said this put a strain on the family and caused distress. We ended our investigation as the matters complained about were not separable from the SEND tribunal process and therefore out of our jurisdiction.
Northumberland County Council (22 010 947)
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s home to school transport policy. This is because the complaint does not meet the tests in our Assessment Code on how we decide which complaints to investigate. There is not enough evidence of fault by the Council.
London Borough of Barking & Dagenham (22 012 562)
Summary: We will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint about an unsuccessful appeal for a school place. This is because there is not enough evidence of fault and so we cannot question the merits of the panel’s decision.
Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council (22 009 144)
Summary: Mr W complains about a number of issues in relation to the Council’s engagement with him and his child. This includes matters such as child contact arrangements and personal care hours which were subject to legal proceedings. Central to Mr W’s complaint however is the Council’s alleged refusal to consider these complaints further once legal proceedings concluded. He is also dissatisfied about matters in relation to medication procedures and how a complaint for social housing was internally dealt with by the Council. We have discontinued our investigation because we do not have jurisdiction to investigate a number of the complaints. We also cannot add anything further to what the Council has undertaken to do.
Surrey County Council (22 004 034)
Summary: Mrs L complains in respect of her daughter (Young Person X) who has special educational needs (SEN). The Council maintains an EHCP for Young Person X which identifies what support she needs to meet her SEN. Mrs L complains in respect of the contents of the EHCP, a failure to provide specific EHCP provision, as well as how this was handled internally as a complaint by the Council. We found the Council failed to maintain oversight over whether Young Person X’s EHCP provision was being delivered. This meant the Council failed to provide part of the EHCP provision. The Council also gave misleading and inaccurate information to Mrs L as regards to who was responsible for providing Young Person X’s EHCP provision. We have no jurisdiction to investigate the contents of Young Person X’s EHCP because Mrs L appealed to a tribunal in respect of these issues. Nevertheless, Young Person X and Mrs L suffered an injustice by reason of the failings identified. The Council has agreed to our recommendations to remedy this.
London Borough of Wandsworth (22 011 877)
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about alleged fault in the process of reviewing and issuing the complainant’s son’s Education Health and Care Plan. This is because the complaint is late and there are no grounds for us to consider it now.
Manchester City Council (22 009 883)
Summary: We will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint about Manchester City Council and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust’s support to her son, Mr Y, after 2013. That is because Mrs X appealed to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal in 2013. Also, a significant amount of time has passed since the events complained about which impacts on our ability to consider the complaint about the Trust.
Bracknell Forest Council (22 003 230)
Summary: The complainant (Mrs X) said the Council’s failed to follow due process when reviewing her son’s (Y) Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). She also said the Council failed to provide Y with full-time education, consistently deliver special educational provisions (SEP) identified in his EHCP, make payments to Y’s tutors as agreed and effectively communicate with the parents. I found fault with all aspects of Mrs X’s complaint. The Council agreed to pay the outstanding invoices for the ABA tutoring, continue funding his ABA tutoring until Mrs X’s appeal is resolved by the Tribunal and make a distress payment for Mrs X. It also agreed to complete some service improvements.