London Borough of Croydon (23 008 097)

Category : Adult care services > Transition from childrens services

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 25 Mar 2024

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mrs Y complained about the way the Council dealt with Mr X’s social care support and its response to her complaint. We have found fault by the Council in failing to review Mr X’s need for support managing his finances, and failing to consider part of Mrs Y’s complaint, but this did not cause any personal injustice. We have not found fault on the other parts of Mrs Y’s complaint.

The complaint

  1. The complainants, who I am calling Mrs Y and Mr X, complain about the way the Council dealt with Mr X’s social care support. Mrs Y is Mr X’s mother. She has brought the complaint on her and Mr X’s behalf, through her solicitors.
  2. Mrs Y and Mr X complain the Council failed to:
      1. complete an Adult Social Care assessment of Mr X’s needs as he approached 18 (in April 2021);
      2. complete an application for Universal Credit on Mr X’s behalf. He is not able to do this for himself. The Council wrongly told Mrs Y she should make the application. Because of this, Mr X is not receiving his correct benefit entitlement;
      3. cover the cost of an escort to accompany Mr X on the journey to his residential school when it knew he could not travel by himself; and
      4. consider Mrs Y’s complaint in May 2023. The Council said it would not look at the complaint because it was about events from 2012, and outside its 12 months time limit for bringing complaints.

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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.
  2. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. If there has been fault which has caused significant injustice, or that could cause injustice to others in the future we may suggest a remedy. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26(1) and 26A(1), as amended)
  3. If we are satisfied with an organisation’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)

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What I have and have not investigated

  1. We cannot investigate late complaints unless we decide there are good reasons. Late complaints are when someone takes more than 12 months to complain to us about something a council has done. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended)
  2. I have not considered Mrs Y’s complaint about anything that happened before May 2022.
  3. This is because Mrs Y did not complain to the Council until May 2023, or to us until August 2023. I do not consider there is any good reason why Mrs Y could not have raised her concerns before this.

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I made enquiries of the Council and read the information Mrs Y, her solicitors and the Council provided about the complaint.
  2. I invited Mrs Y, her solicitors and the Council to comment on a draft version of this decision. I considered their responses before making my final decision.

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What I found

What should have happened

Adult social care assessments and care plans

  1. Councils must carry out an assessment for any adult with an appearance of need for care and support. They must provide an assessment to everyone regardless of their finances or whether the council thinks the person has eligible needs. The assessment must be of the adult’s needs and how they impact on their wellbeing and the results they want to achieve. It must also involve the individual and where suitable their carer or any other person they might want involved. (Sections 9 and 10 of the Care Act 2014)
  2. Councils must provide a care and support plan for a person they have assessed as having eligible needs. The care and support plan should consider what needs the person has, what they want to achieve, what they can do by themselves or with existing support and what care and support may be available in the local area. When preparing a care and support plan the council must involve any carer the adult has. (Care Act 2014)

Managing another person’s financial affairs

  1. A person may choose another person, under a legal document, to make decisions for them as their attorney.
  2. If there is a need for decisions to be made for a person who does not have an attorney, the Court of Protection may appoint a deputy to make decisions for that person.
  3. A DWP appointee is someone who has applied for the right to deal with the benefits of a person who cannot manage their own affairs because they are mentally incapable or severely disabled.
  4. The Council has information on its website about helping someone to make decisions. This says:
  • If no other person is available to support someone who needs help to manage their affairs it may be necessary for the Council to do this; and
  • Care managers or social workers can make applications to the Council’s appointee and deputy team if they think a person is unable to manage financially – because they lack the mental capacity or have a condition which prevents them from doing do.

The Council’s complaints policy

  1. This says complaints to the Council should be made within 12 months of when a customer feels something has gone wrong. If it is longer the Council may ask customers to explain why they could not complain sooner.

What happened

  1. I have set out a summary of the key events below. It is not meant to show everything that happened. It is based on my review of all the evidence provided about this complaint.


  1. Mr X is a young person and has an EHC Plan. Up until July 2023 he attended the local educational placement named in his Plan. His named placement was changed to a residential educational placement from September 2023.

March 2023: Mr X’s Adult Social Care assessment

  1. In March 2023, the Council’s SEN team referred Mr X to Adult Social Care (ASC) for a care needs assessment.
  2. A social worker in the 18-25 team met with Mrs Y and Mr X to complete the assessment. This included the following:
  • Mr X needed support to carry out food shopping and budget his finances. He received Personal Independence Payments. Mrs Y managed these payments as his DWP appointee. Mrs Y said Mr X was entitled to Universal Credit but had not been receiving this. She was provided with information on how to get support to make an application;
  • Mr X had a limited understanding of the value of money. He needed ongoing assistance to develop money skills. He lacked the ability to engage in more complex financial transactions;
  • Mrs Y was unable to continue supporting Mr X at home on a full-time basis even with a care package. She wanted the Council to make appropriate arrangements for his accommodation from September 2023; and
  • Mr X could not live independently due to his needs and required 24-hour provision. He had been offered a 38-week support package at a residential college. Mrs Y was willing to support him at home with a care package during the 14 weeks holiday.

May 2023: Mrs Y’s complaint to the Council

  1. Mrs Y’s solicitors complained to the Council on her behalf. They said the Council had failed to:
  • assess Mr X’s needs as a child in need and provide any social care support from 2012;
  • arrange an adult social care assessment for Mr X as he approached 18 (in April 2021); and
  • provide Mr X with a carer escort to and from his educational placement.
  1. The Council acknowledged the complaint. It said it would review this and respond.
  2. The Council sent its response to Mrs Y’s solicitors in July 2023. It said it would not look at any part of the complaint because the concerns dated back to 2012 and were outside its time limit for complaints.

June 2023: Contact about Mr X’s travel to and from his placement

  1. The SEN team confirmed the position with Mrs Y. She was currently arranging private transport for Mr X using his personal budget payments. It told her, she would need to make a request to the Council’s transport team if she wanted to change this and arrange for Mr X to travel with an escort to his placement.
  2. There were discussions between Mrs Y, the transport team, SEN and ASC about the new arrangement,
  3. Mr X’s social worker confirmed to Mrs Y, the Council had agreed that ASC would fund the extra hours for a carer to escort Mr X to and from his current (local) educational placement and to his new placement in September 2023.
  4. I understand Mrs Y now arranges Mr X’s travel to and from his residential placement with an escort, funded by direct payments made by the Council.

June to August 2023: Mr X’s Universal Credit application

  1. Mrs Y asked Mr X’s social worker to complete his application for Universal Credit. She said she had legal advice that a social worker’s role extended to form filling.
  2. In response to this request the Council said:
  • benefit claims would be managed by a person’s personal assistant to help them meet their day-to day outcomes, or by whoever manages their finances – such as a financial appointee, deputy or under a power of attorney; and
  • ASC and a social worker’s role was to assess a person’s needs and arrange services to meet those needs. It did not extend to personally processing benefit applications forms.
  1. Mrs Y told the Council she would not be completing Mr X’s benefit application. He needed Universal Credit to meet his needs. ASC had to consider how Mr X’s needs could be met. The answer here was for a social worker to fill out the forms for him.
  2. In response to our enquiries the Council told us:
  • It signposted Mrs Y to organisations offering support with benefit applications after she told it she did not want to do this herself; and
  • If Mrs Y did not wish to manage Mr X’s finances, and there was no other suitable volunteer, ASC could apply for his finances and benefit claims to be managed by the Council’s appointee and deputy team. The Council would need to complete a Mental Capacity Act assessment for Mr X before making an application.

My view – was there fault by the Council causing injustice?

a) Mr X’s Adult Social Care needs assessment

  1. For the reasons explained at paragraphs 6-8, I have not investigated the complaint the Council failed to complete an assessment for Mr X in 2021.
  2. I consider the Council properly completed an assessment and care plan for Mr X, when asked to do so in March 2023.
  3. I have not found fault by the Council with this part of the complaint.

b) Mr X’s Universal Credit application

  1. The Council has a duty to arrange support to meet Mr X’s assessed needs. It can do this either by arranging for a person other than itself to provide a service, directly providing a service or making direct payments. It is not required to meet those needs a carer is able and willing to continue meeting for the person.
  2. Mr X’s care assessment noted that Mrs Y acted as his DWP appointee for his benefit claims. I don’t consider there was any indication at that stage Mrs Y was not prepared to continue as his DWP appointee.
  3. I consider the Council correctly informed Mrs Y about the options for managing Mr X’s finances and making benefit claims – with the assistance of a personal assistant, or by a financial appointee, deputy or attorney.
  4. But when Mrs Y made it clear she was not longer willing to continue to meet Mr X’s need for support to manage his finances, my view is the Council should have reviewed its assessment and arrangements in the care plan for meeting this particular need. In my view its failure to do so was fault.
  5. I have considered the impact of this fault on Mr X. He has been living in a residential placement which provides support for his needs since September 2023. This may include assistance with benefit claims. I haven’t been provided with any evidence Mr X has been caused any personal injustice at this stage.
  6. And as most care assessments are reviewed each year, a scheduled review of Mr X’s assessment and care plan is due, if not already completed. This should include a review of Mr X’s need for support to manage his affairs.

c) Mr X’s travel to and from his placement

  1. The information I have seen shows the Council discussed this with Mrs Y and agreed arrangements and funding for Mr X’s travel with an escort to and from his residential placement, before his start date in September 2023.
  2. I have not found fault by the Council with this part of the complaint

d) The Council’s response to Mrs Y’s complaint in May 2023

  1. The main part of Mrs Y’s complaint in May 2023 was about events which took place between 2012 and April 2021, more than 12 months before she made her complaint. I do not consider it was fault by the Council to tell Mrs Y’s solicitors her complaint about events during this period was out of time.
  2. I consider it was fault by the Council not to consider the part of the complaint which was about events within the last 12 months - the arrangements for Mr X’s travel to and from his placement.
  3. But as Mrs Y’s concerns about Mr X’s travel arrangements were resolved shortly after her solicitors complained to the Council, I do not consider this caused Mrs Y any injustice.

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Final decision

  1. I have completed my investigation of this complaint. I have found some fault by the Council but that this did not cause any injustice.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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