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Luton Borough Council (19 018 791)

Category : Adult care services > Charging

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 25 Mar 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint that the Council did not tell the complainant that he would have to make a contribution towards his care costs. This is because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I refer to as Mr X, complains that the Council did not tell him he would have to pay for his care. He wants the Council to write off the invoice he received.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start an investigation if we believe it is unlikely we would find fault. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I read the complaint and the Council’s response. I considered the letter the Council sent to Mr X saying he would have to make a financial payment. I invited Mr X to comment on a draft of this decision.

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What I found

What happened

  1. On 16 September Mr X started to receive care arranged by the Council. The Council wrote to Mr X on 20 September to say it would do a financial assessment to work out the amount of the contribution he would have to pay towards the cost of the care. The letter said the Council would do a financial assessment to work out his contribution. The letter also said the care would apply from the date he started to receive the care.
  2. An officer visited in October and helped Mr X complete the financial assessment form. The outcome of the assessment was that Mr X was required to pay a weekly charge of £60.
  3. The Council sent Mr X an invoice for the cost of his care. Mr X has not paid the bill.
  4. Mr X says the Council should remove the charge because he was told the care would be free. Mr X stopped receiving the care in October because he cannot afford it.

Assessment

  1. I will not start an investigation because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council. The Council wrote to Mr X to explain that he would have to make a financial contribution and it provided this information four days after he started to receive the care. I have seen the letter and it clearly explained Mr X would have to make a financial contribution. There is no suggestion of fault by the Council and no reason to ask it to waive the invoice.

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Final decision

  1. I will not start an investigation because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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