Summary: Ms C complained to the Council that it delayed reassessing her son E’s needs and deciding about his personal budget. Ms C says these delays meant her son’s needs were not met and she was caused uncertainty and distress. The Council refused to consider Ms C’s complaint at Stage 2 of the statutory children’s complaint procedure. As a result, we investigated both Ms C’s complaint about delay and the Council’s complaint procedure. On the evidence available, we found fault with the Council’s management of E’s personal budget and its refusal to consider Ms C’s complaint at Stage 2 of the statutory complaint procedure.
The Ombudsman upheld the complaint and found fault found causing injustice.
To remedy the injustice caused, within four weeks of the date of this report, the Council has agreed to:
- apologise to Ms C and E for the faults identified in this report;
- pay E £100 to acknowledge he did not have access to a service he was entitled to for two months;
- pay Ms C £300 to acknowledge the uncertainty and distress caused by its delay resolving the issue with E’s personal budget; and
- pay Ms C £500 to acknowledge the time and trouble caused by its unreasonable refusal to escalate her complaint to Stage 2 of the statutory complaint procedure and the delay this caused.
- review its administrative procedures for personal budgets to ensure records are kept of all meetings and payees are given information about unapproved expenditure promptly; and
- develop a procedure to respond to concerns about how a payee is using/managing a personal budget.
- provide all staff involved in children’s services complaints with training on the statutory complaint procedure, including a complainant’s right to progress to Stage 2 and, in most circumstances, Stage 3; and
- task a senior officer not previously involved to contact all complainants that were refused a Stage 2 or Stage 3 complaint since September 2017. They should make sure each refusal complied with the statutory guidance and our decision in this case. If any do not, the Council should take steps to reopen those complaint investigations and progress to the next stage if the complainant wishes.
Ombudsman satisfied with Council's response: 27 April 2021.