PEOPLE who complain about Wiltshire Council to the Ombudsman were less likely to get a 'satisfactory' resolution of their grievance than people living in similar areas in 2019-20, figures have revealed.

The Ombudsman, which investigates complaints from the public about councils in England, has released the information as part of its annual review.

In total, the Ombudsman upheld 19 complaints against Wiltshire Council of 37 made, an rate of 51 per cent – lower than the England average of 56 per cent.

But in just five per cent of cases Wiltshire Council was found to provide a ‘satisfactory remedy’ before complaints reached Ombudsman – this compares to the average of 11 per cent in similar authorities.

One upheld decision referred a Mrs B who complained that the council was wrong to decide that her father had deliberately deprived himself of assets and reduced his capital to not have to pay for his care.

The Ombudsman found fault in the way the council carried out its assessment and did Mr and Mrs C’s joint ownership of their former home into account or the costs of renovating the current home.

In response, the Ombudsman considered that a review of the financial assessment would be a suitable solution to the ‘injustice caused to Mrs B and her father’.

In one investigation, a man referred to as Mr X complained about the council’s Shared Lives placement and its attempt to recover money from him based on this placement.

The Ombudsman found that the council took too long to allocate Mr X with a social worker able to check on his placement and make long-term plans on where he should live.

It was also noted that the council took too long to respond to this complaint and has agreed to apologise to Mr X and reduces the amount of money he owes by £500.

Another complainant referred to as Mr X raised issue with how the council dealt with its homelessness applications as he was denied his right to a review of the homelessness decision and became ‘street homeless’ for a number of months.

The investigation also found that on two occasions the council had failed to provide Mr X with emergency accommodation.

Wiltshire Council has agreed to apologies to Mr X and his mother, and make a payment to him, as well as to make a ‘time and trouble’ payment to his mother in addition to carrying out a review of its practices.

It has also agreed to take steps toward a fresh homelessness application from Mr X.

Another saw a woman referred to as Ms B complain about the way Wiltshire Council dealt with issues of abuse in her family and the support given since 2015 – causing ‘severe distress and practical difficulties’.

The Ombudsman found that the council delayed in acting effectively when the first incident happened in December 2015.

The assessment said: “It then delayed for over two years in providing specialist support for Ms B’s daughter.

“The Council has agreed to continue to fund therapy for Ms B and D, to provide some family mediation therapy and to provide a holiday for the whole family along with community activities for D.”

In a letter to the council’s chief executive, Terence Herbert, Ombudsman, Michael King said that on two occasions the watchdog had to threaten to witness summons on two cases as despite ‘continued efforts’ and considerable time’ Wiltshire Council had failed to respond.

In other cases, the ombudsman found that the council took too long to respond to his enquiries with over a third of responses being late.

The letter stated that when the council did respond, the information given ‘was sometimes incomplete’.

Mr King also said that it is ‘disappointing’ that in five cases remedies were not completed within the given timescales and notes ‘we had to chase the council to achieve compliance’.

“While I appreciate the pressures local authorities are under, delays to investigations can add to complainants’ injustice,” he wrote.

“I would ask the council to reflect on the way it responds to our enquiries, with a view to providing us with more timely responses in the future.”