23 June 2022
What we can and cannot consider is called the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction and is governed by the Housing Ombudsman Scheme. The Ombudsman must determine whether a complaint comes within their jurisdiction. The Ombudsman seeks to resolve disputes wherever possible but cannot investigate complaints that fall outside of this.
In deciding whether a complaint falls within their jurisdiction, the Ombudsman will carefully consider all the evidence provided by the parties and the circumstances of the case.
- The complaint concerns the council’s assessment of the resident’s housing needs, and its bidding process for housing.
Determination (jurisdictional decision)
- When a complaint is brought to the Ombudsman, we must consider all the circumstances of the case as there are sometimes reasons why a complaint will not be investigated.
- After carefully considering all the evidence, I have determined that the complaint, as set out above, is not within the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.
Summary of events
- The resident applied to their local council for housing. Applicants are assessed against the council’s allocation policy and awarded a priority, or banding, based on their housing need. Applicants can then use the council’s housing services to bid on available properties.
- In December 2021 the resident submitted a complaint to the council about its assessment of their housing needs. They said that they had not been awarded a high enough priority and had been unsuccessful when bidding for properties. The council provided its final response to the complaint on 1 April 2022.
- The council stated in its stage 2 that the resident had not been placed within the emergency band under its new lettings policy and had been awarded band B which had replaced the former Urgent Band. It explained that the resident had been awarded the former medical priority known as urgent band A Medical and that although now classified as band B, they have retained the medical priority which was given to them in 2019. The Council also explained that it is experiencing high numbers of applicants also waiting for a three bedroom property and advised the resident to consider alternative housing options due to the long waiting times.
- The council stated this it could find no fault with regards to the action taken by its service to address the resident’s housing needs and referred them to the Housing Ombudsman and the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman should them remain dissatisfied.
- On 29 April 2022, the resident asked the Housing Ombudsman to investigate the complaint, stating that they were not satisfied with the council’s investigation of and response to their complaint because their concerns about its bidding system or process had not been addressed, as well as their concerns about its assessment of their housing needs.
- The Housing Ombudsman Scheme sets out the type of complaints which this Service can and cannot consider.
- Paragraph 39(m) of the Scheme states that the Ombudsman will not investigate complaints which, in the Ombudsman’s opinion fall properly within the jurisdiction of another Ombudsman, regulator or complaint-handling body.
- The resident’s complaint concerns the council’s assessment of their housing needs and issues with the bidding process. The assessment of the resident’s housing needs, banding decisions and the choice-based lettings scheme bidding process are services provided by the council in its capacity as a local authority. The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman considers complaints about local authorities, therefore the Ombudsman cannot consider this complaint.
- The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman can be contacted by visiting www.lgo.org.uk or by telephoning 0300 061 0614.