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Complaints about local authority assistance with home improvements

This content applies to England & Wales

Problems a person may face when applying to the local authority for help with home improvements.

Common problems

Common problems could include:

  • the local authority refused to issue an application form
  • there was a delay in processing the application
  • their resources were incorrectly assessed when their contribution to a means-tested grant was calculated
  • the local authority refused to offer help
  • the local authority delayed paying a loan or grant
  • the local authority failed to adhere to its policy, for example where it does not meet a time limit for approving applications if it has set one out in its policy
  • an authority fettering its discretion by, for instance, applying a blanket policy without regard to the personal circumstances of the applicant

Complaints to the local authority

If a person is experiencing problems in accessing help with home improvements, they can complain to the local authority. It should have a formal complaints procedure. Alternatively, a person may wish to object to an unlawful or unfair policy or decision on home improvements through the authority's monitoring officer. A monitoring officer, who is usually a senior local authority officer, has an obligation to report, to the local authority, a decision or proposal by the authority that is considered unlawful or unjust. The local authority then has 21 days within which to consider the report by the monitoring officer.

Complaints to the LGSCO

Complaints can also be made to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO). However, a complaint should be made through the local authority's complaints procedure first, before complaining to the Ombudsman. In one case, the Ombudsman decided that in exercising discretion in relation to grant approval policies a local authority should consider the human rights of the applicant. A council should not automatically assume that its policy should be applied in all cases and should take into account the individual circumstances of the applicant(s).[1]

See Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman for more information.

Judicial review of local authority decisions

Where a local authority's decision on help with home improvements is made unlawfully, for instance if it has failed to comply with its legal requirements in reaching the decision, it may be possible to challenge this through the courts. This is known as judicial review and it is the procedure by which the High Court considers the lawfulness of a decision that has been made by a public body (such as a local authority).

For more information see Challenging local authority decisions.

[1] Complaint no 09 006 783 against Blaby DC, Local Government Ombudsman.

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