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Birmingham City Council (21 000 323)

Category : Children's care services > Disabled children

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 08 Mar 2022

Overview:

Summary

Mr X complained about the Council’s handling of home adaptations to meet his son’s social care needs. Mr X said the building work is slow, of poor quality, and is incomplete. He says this has impacted on his son’s mental health and medical condition.

Finding

Fault found causing injustice and recommendations made.

Recommendations 

The Council must consider the report and confirm within three months the action it has taken or proposes to take. The Council should consider the report at its full Council, Cabinet or other appropriately delegated committee of elected members and we will require evidence of this. (Local Government Act 1974, section 31(2), as amended)

Personal remedy

To remedy the injustice caused, we recommend the Council:

  • apologise to Mr X for the injustice caused by the faults identified;

  • pay Mr X £200 to recognise the distress and uncertainty caused by the faults identified;

  • pay Mr X £800 to recognise the significant impact the delays and the lack of adaptations will have had on his child;

  • ask Mr X to obtain three quotes from contractors he chooses to complete the works needed to expose an area of the wall which will allow Company T to review the brickwork in the side wall of the extension. Mr X will provide the Council with a copy of the three quotes as well as all the documents set out in the Council’s preferred option nomination form. Once the Council has the documents, it will consider the quotes and decide which contractor Mr X can appoint. The Council will pay for the full cost of the work;

  • ask Mr X to obtain three quotes from contractors he chooses to complete any remedial works Company T recommends following the inspection. Mr X will provide the Council with a copy of the three quotes as well as all the documents set out in the Council’s preferred option nomination form. Once the Council has a copy of the quotes, it will consider the quotes and decide which contractor Mr X can appoint. The Council will pay for the full cost of the work;

  • ask Mr X to obtain three quotes from contractors he chooses to complete the works needed to finish the adaptation (once the issue of the brickwork has been resolved). Mr X will provide the Council with a copy of the three quotes as well as all the documents set out in the Council’s preferred option nomination form. Once the Council has a copy of the quotes, it will consider the quotes and decide which contractor Mr X can appoint. The Council will pay for the full cost of the work.
  • It is worth noting our view that while the Council is selecting which quote to approve, it is completely Mr X’s choice as to which contractors he asks to quote on the works, and which quotes he provides to the Council. Mr X therefore has full control over deciding what contractors he considers suitable to complete the required works.

Service improvement

The Council should implement a DFG policy which covers the following.

  • An outline of the process for approving DFGs.

  • An outline of how the Council will deliver the approved DFG and recommended adaptation works.

  • An outline of the process for how applicants can choose their own contractor.

  • The criteria the Council should consider when deciding on discretionary top up assistance for adaptations costing more than £30,000.

  • For cases where the Council has appointed the contractor to complete the adaptation works, an outline of the:

    • process for reviewing and inspecting the works throughout the whole of the build;

    • the role and responsibilities of the Council to rectify poor quality work;

    • the role and responsibilities of the applicant; and

  • the role and responsibilities of the Council to resolve disputes between the contractor and applicant.

  • The Council should remind relevant staff of the importance of keeping accurate records made at the time of all communications and discussions with an applicant. If meetings are held to discuss matters, the Council should keep a record of the minutes of the meeting. This will help to ensure the Council has evidence to demonstrate its decision making and rationale at the time for decisions made.

  • The Council must consider the report and confirm within three months the action it has taken or proposes to take. The Council should consider the report at its full Council, Cabinet or other appropriately delegated committee of elected members and we will require evidence of this. (Local Government Act 1974, section 31(2), as amended)

Ombudsman satisfied with Council's response: 29 June 2022.

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