Appeals, Disputes And Complaints
171. The Regulation of Care (Scotland) 2001 section 73(1)(b) amends section 29 of the 1995 Act to include 29(6) which is a duty on local authorities to consider representations and complaints. Section 29(6) (as amended) reads:
"Each local authority shall establish a procedure for considering representations (including complaints) made to them by any person mentioned in subsection (1) or (2) above about the discharge of their functions under the provisions of subsections (1) to (5B) above."
172. The material in The Support and Assistance of Young People Leaving Care in Scotland: Regulations and Guidance on services for Young People Ceasing to be Looked After by Local Authorities published in 2004 (the 2004 Guidance) outlines the process of appeals regarding Aftercare and is still relevant and the principles of the appeals process are stated quite clearly.
173. It is important that young people have swift access to an appeals system that is transparent and easy to understand.
174. The 2004 Guidance and The Support and Assistance of Young People Leaving Care (Scotland) Regulations 2003 (as amended by The Support and Assistance of Young People Leaving Care (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2015) set out the procedures that must be followed by the responsible authority should they receive a representation from a young person appealing against their decisions on the manner or level of support to be provided, or a decision not to provide support to a prospective supported person.
175. The responsible authority should continue providing support to the young person while any appeals process is continuing.
176. The 2004 Guidance and the 2003 Regulations set out the complete appeals process including timeframes. They promote informal resolution within a specified period initially before more formal proceedings are instigated. These need to be actioned in a manner that is supportive of the young person and with the principles of the appeals process in mind.
177. If the dispute remains unresolved the young person might appeal the decision, if this is the concern, through the route described above, or complain using the route described below.
178. A young person has the right to complain. These complaints may be about, for example; where an assessment under the 2014 Act does not identify an eligible need; the local authority refusing to provide a service; the way that a decision was made about providing a service; problems which arise once a service has been provided; the standard of care provided, including a complaint about a particular member of staff; discrimination (which is illegal) that they feel they have experienced because of race, sex, sexual orientation or disability.
179. The local authority has a duty to ensure that a young person knows about the local authority complaints procedure and knows how to use it.
181. The 2004 Guidance states:
a) The process regarding complaints remains as described in The Support and Assistance of Young People Leaving Care (Scotland) Regulations 2003. The emphasis being on a swift and informal resolution of any issue. Any further representations should be made under the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968.
b) Finally if there is still no resolution then a request can be made for an independent Complaints Review Committee to consider it. Once this process has been completed the complaint can be raised with the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman  .
182. The young person also has the right to make a complaint to the local authority about the service they have received or how an appeal has been handled. Complaints should be made through the normal methods of complaint about social work service under the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 or any other appropriate complaints procedures. Current Guidance and Directions on the 1968 Act procedure were laid out in Circular Number SWSG 5/1996 of 15 March 1996  .
183. The procedure requires that the local authority instigate an informal problem solving stage where every attempt is made to resolve the complaint. If this is not successful, unresolved complaints will then be investigated by specially designated staff.
184. It is the duty of the local authority to ensure that young people have knowledge, access to and support to engage with, the appeals and complaints procedures. This will mean that information, in a format which young people can understand, needs to be available as does other such support, for example advocacy.
185. Looked after disabled young people need access to appeals and complaints also and this might require additional support from the local authority.
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