Bradford Council cost a man with learning difficulties years of funding amounting to over £100,000.
The Ombudsman found that the Council provided wrong information to the Independent Living Fund (ILF) – that Mr A was going into residential care – when in fact he was moving into supported housing. If the ILF had not been given this wrong information it would have continued to pay Mr A £750 per month.
Mr A had severe learning disabilities. He lost the £180 a week he had from the ILF when he moved into supported housing. For seven years his brother strove to get answers about why this had happened and to get the payments reinstated.
Mr A lost the opportunity to take part in many social activities he had previously enjoyed – such as going to a swimming club, to an evening disco every week, and frequent trips to the seaside – because of the loss of his ILF payments.
The Ombudsman's investigation found that:
- Mr A lost his ILF payments because the Council wrongly told the ILF he was in residential care. At the same time, the Council was paying itself housing benefit for Mr A – this cannot be done for residential care accommodation.
- His brother asked the Council to give Mr A a tenancy agreement but it did not.
- When the Council knew that the ILF could reinstate payments to Mr A if he had a tenancy agreement or a written licence to occupy his supported housing, it failed to give him either.
- The Council could not produce any evidence that it tried to prove to the ILF that Mr A was living independently.
- Eventually in 2006 the Council transferred its supported housing to a registered social landlord. The new landlord gave Mr A an assured shorthold tenancy and in 2008 the ILF began to pay him again.
- The ILF rules had changed so Mr A got less than he'd had before moving in 2001.
The total amount of ILF payments that Mr A lost because of the Council's maladministration came to just over £100,000. The Council agreed to pay Mr A this amount and to continue to pay him the difference between what he would have been entitled to and what he could now get. That was currently £142 per week. It will also pay Mr A’s brother £5,000 to recognise the extraordinary lengths he had to go to in pursuing justice for his brother. The Ombudsman also recommended the Council should apologise to both brothers.
Remedy agreed prior to publication: 27 July 2012