Liverpool City Council (20 001 238)

Category : Adult care services > Direct payments

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 11 Feb 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr C complains on behalf of Ms B and her mother Mrs B that the Council unreasonably delayed between October 2018 and February 2019 in confirming it would allow direct payments and refused to backdate these payments to October 2018. We have stopped investigating this complaint because the Council has taken action which has resolved the outstanding issue and no further action by the Ombudsman is needed.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall refer to as Mr C, complains on behalf of Ms B and her mother Mrs B that the Council unreasonably delayed between October 2018 and February 2019 in confirming it would allow direct payments after commissioned care was cancelled and Ms B took over as carer for her mother. Mr C also complains the Council refused to backdate these payments to October 2018 despite Ms B being told this would happen.
  2. Mr C says that because of the Council’s fault, Ms B cancelled the existing care arrangements and took on the caring responsibility for her mother without adequate financial support which has caused financial hardship resulting in ongoing debt. Mr C also says that both Ms B and her mother have suffered unnecessary upset and time and trouble in trying to resolve the issue.
  3. Mr C also complained about the ongoing administration of direct payments.

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What I have investigated

  1. The complainant, whom I shall refer to as Mr C, complains on behalf of Ms B and her mother Mrs B that the Council unreasonably delayed between October 2018 and February 2019 in confirming it would allow direct payments after commissioned care was cancelled and Ms B took over as carer for her mother. Mr C also complains the Council refused to backdate these payments to October 2018 despite Ms B being told this would happen.
  2. Mr C says that because of the Council’s fault, Ms B cancelled the existing care arrangements and took on the caring responsibility for her mother without adequate financial support which has caused financial hardship resulting in ongoing debt. Mr C also says that both Ms B and her mother have suffered unnecessary upset and time and trouble in trying to resolve the issue.
  3. The final section of this statement contains my reason(s) for not investigating the rest of the complaint.

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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 or continue with an investigation if we believe it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I read the papers provided by Mr C and discussed the complaint with him. I have explained my draft decision to Mr C and the Council and provided an opportunity for comment.

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What I found

  1. Everyone whose needs the local authority meets must receive a personal budget as part of the care and support plan. The personal budget gives the person information about the money allocated to meet the needs identified in the assessment and recorded in the plan. Direct payments are a means of paying some, or all, of the personal budget to the person to arrange and pay for their own care.
  2. During the course of my investigation, the Council decided to provide a remedy for the complaint. The Council offered to pay Ms B for the care she provided to her mother, Mrs B during the period 22 October 2018 to 17 February 2019. The total amount payable is £1930.10. In addition, the Council agreed to pay Ms B £500 to acknowledge the time and trouble she experienced in pursuing the payment as well as the inconvenience caused by having to refer her complaint to the Ombudsman. The Council has written to Ms B to apologise for the delay in resolving the complaint. Ms B has accepted the Council’s proposals.
  3. The Council has also confirmed to the Ombudsman that it has made service improvements to the direct payments process. This includes the development of a direct payments policy. The Council is also introducing new template letters when a request is made for direct payments to ensure it has clearly recorded outcomes with rationale for decision making. A programme of training for all adult social work teams has also started to embed these improvements. The Ombudsman welcomes this action.
  4. I am satisfied the actions the Council has already taken provide a suitable remedy to Ms B and further investigation by the Ombudsman would not achieve more.

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Final decision

  1. I have stopped investigating this complaint because the Council has taken action which has resolved the outstanding issue and no further action by the Ombudsman is needed.


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Parts of the complaint that I did not investigate

  1. I have not investigated the part of Mr C’s complaint about the ongoing administration of direct payments as these issues had not completed the Council’s complaints procedure and a complaint would need to be made to the Council in the first instance.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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