Bedford Borough Council (17 014 669)

Category : Children's care services > Friends and family carers

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 16 Oct 2018

Summary

Mr X complains that the Council led him to expect that when he and his wife became Special Guardians it would continue to provide the same amount of financial support they received as foster carers. Then over two years later it unfairly reduced the allowances.

Finding

The Ombudsman upheld the complaint and found fault causing injustice.

Recommendations

The Council has offered a significant remedy which will restore Mr and Mrs X to the financial position they would have been in if the Council had not been at fault.

It has offered to:

  • pay the allowance at the rate of the foster carer allowance minus benefits until the children reach the age of 18, as set out in the original Special Guardianship Support Plan; and
  • backdate the payments to when they were reduced.
  • It has also offered to pay them £250 to recognise the time and trouble involved in pursuing their complaint.

We welcome this offer. In addition, the Council has agreed to our recommendations to:

  • pay Mr and Mrs X a further £250 to recognise the anxiety and distress caused by its actions;
  • tell us what steps it will take to brief relevant staff on the legal and policy requirements on Special Guardianship. In particular it should ensure that:
    • proposed Special Guardianship Support Plans make clear the Council’s intentions regarding any conditions to be placed on financial support;
    • it discusses Support Plans with prospective Special Guardians in a timely way, giving them 28 days to comment; and
    • it fully explains the financial implications to foster carers who wish to become Special Guardians.
    • tell us how it plans to improve record keeping so it has evidence that prospective Special Guardians can make fully informed decisions before taking on the role.

Ombudsman satisfied with Council's response: 21 December 2018.

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