Outcomes - Selected Case Summaries



Delayed response and confusion with NAU application

Investigation | 14 June 2022
Needs Assessment Unit (NAU)

The complainant had been back-and-forth with the NAU for approximately a year or so seeking benefits under the Poor Persons (Relief) Act. This involved making an internal complaint to the NAU which was delayed for a period of approximately nine months, as well as a number of miscommunications between the complainant and the NAU which led to incorrect information being entered on the complainant’s application form.

The process had taken approximately 12 months before a formal complaint of maladministration was made to the Ombudsman.

Our office unsuccessfully sought to informally resolve the complaint and opened a formal investigation in February 2022. The investigation found maladministration on the part of the NAU in the form of unreasonable delay in responding to the complainant’s internal complaint about the delays in their application. The Ombudsman also noted several concerns regarding errors made in considering the applicant’s income when deciding whether or not they should receive financial assistance.

Following the completion of the investigation, a number of recommendations were made and our office will continue to monitor these recommendations for implementation:

  • That the NAU issue an apology for its unreasonable delay
  • That the NAU invite the applicant to make a fresh application for financial assistance, if they remain in need
  • That the NAU provide the Ombudsman copies of its completed internal complaints and appeals policies
  • That the NAU and Ministry of Social Development, as they have suggested, review with staff he rights of complainants to fair administrative decision-making processes, including requirements to provide adequate written reasons for decisions.

 The Ministry and NAU moved quickly on our office’s recommendations and by August 2022, all had been implemented.