CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: Complaining when the local authority does not seek the correct advice during an EHC needs assessment (model letter 7)

How do I know which professionals my Local Authority should be contacting for advice?

When a local authority (“LA”) agrees to assess a child/young person, the law requires it to seek and obtain advice from a specified list of professionals. The professionals must provide the advice and information within 6 weeks of being contacted by the LA. This advice and information must be in relation to the child’s needs, outcomes and provision.

You can find out which professionals must be contacted and who must provide advice here.

When should I complain?

If the LA have not approached all of the people that are listed in Regulation 6(1) of the SEN and Disability Regulations 2014 (the “SEN Regs”) (also listed on the EHC needs assessment page), they are in breach of their legal obligations and you can make a complaint about this.

You can also complain if you have asked the LA to seek advice from a particular person under SEN Reg 6(1)(h) and they have refused to do so even though your request was reasonable. (See the page on EHC needs assessments for more information on what a ‘reasonable’ request would be.)

Finally, you may wish to complain if any of the professionals specified on the list send an inadequate response to the LA – for example, a very vague report which doesn’t deal with the child or young person’s needs, provision and outcomes, or even just a letter saying “not known to this service”. This does not meet the legal requirement of the LA to seek and obtain the advice in relation to needs, outcomes and provision.

Who should I write to?

You can use this letter to write to the top person at the LA, usually the Director of Children’s Services. You can find this information and contact details for this person by clicking here. It may help to copy in the LA’s monitoring officer, your ward councillor, and the LA case worker or officer you have been dealing with as well.

Your LA’s Local Offer should clearly set out how a formal complaint can be made in its complaints procedure. This can be found on your LA’s website. You should follow the LA’s complaints procedure as well as writing to the Director of Children’s Services. See our making a complaint about a LA page for more information.

Remember to keep a copy of any letter or email you send.

If you don’t get a reply after five working days, or if you need further advice, you can book an advice line appointment with IPSEA.