Lambeth Council will improve its noise nuisance service, after an ombudsman found it had turned down more than 6,300 complaints since 2016.

The council had changed its policy as a response to budget cuts, only investigating a noise complaint if three people raised concerns.

But local authorities cannot place restrictions on what they will investigate, local government and social care ombudsman Michael King said.

“Ongoing noise nuisance can cause significant distress, but Lambeth Council’s policy unfairly swept many people’s complaints under the carpet,” he said.

“Councils have a statutory duty to investigate and cannot impose their own limits on what they will and will not consider.

“I’m pleased Lambeth council has now changed its policy to recognise its duties, and will now look into any ongoing concerns that have not been investigated previously,” Mr King added.

The investigation was triggered after a woman complained to the ombudsman about how the council handled her concerns about her neighbour’s noise – which she said was making her ill.

During the investigation, the ombudsman found 6,353 other complaints had not been considered because of the change in policy.

The ombudsman found fault with the council for changing its policy, which meant it was not meeting its statutory obligations.

A Lambeth Council spokesperson said the council had made changes and would ensure complaints were handled more effectively.

“We’ve fully accepted the findings of the LGO and apologise unreservedly for the inconvenience caused by the changes to the statutory noise service, which were introduced in 2016,” he said.

“The council made the changes in response to continued government budget cuts, and following an assessment that found that the service was ineffective.”