Birmingham City Council (17 017 296)

Category : Education > School transport

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 03 Apr 2019

Summary: A mother complains about the way the Council assessed her son’s eligibility for post-19 transport funding assistance. The Council did not properly consider his application and significant delay meant that she had to transport her son to college every day, unsupported.

Finding

The Ombudsman upheld the complaint and found fault causing injustice.

Recommendations

The Council has agreed to take the following action to remedy the injustice identified in this report. The Council will:

  • Apologise to both Mr and Miss X for the way it handled the post-19 transport application and the way it handled the whole process.
  • Pay Mr X £1500 to acknowledge the distress and anxiety he suffered during the year he was unsupported by the Council. This sum is at the higher end of our scale of payment for distress. The circumstances are exceptional. The sum reflects the severity of the distress, the length of time involved, Mr X’s vulnerability and takes into account the opinion voiced by medical professionals that the Council’s actions directly impacted on Mr X’s anxiety.
  • Pay Miss X:
    • £1000 to acknowledge the distress she suffered pursuing the Council for support. The sum is at the higher end of our scale of payment for distress. It reflects the severity of the distress, the length of time involved and the anxiety experienced by Miss X as she undertook the daily five hour round trip to college without support, while continuing to run her business;
    • £800 to acknowledge the risk of harm to Miss X during the period in question. Risk assessments had suggested Mr X should be accompanied with a guide and a clinician had raised concerns with the Council about the risk Mr X’s behaviour, when anxious, could present to Miss X.
    • £300 to acknowledge the time and trouble Miss X took to pursue the complaint. The evidence indicates she had to be persistent to engage a response, engaging councillors and solicitors to elicit a response.
  • Implement the findings of its current consultation on transport policy, which will involve considering the wording of its policy in this area. It should ensure applicants are clearly signposted to any revised policy. It should ensure staff keep records of all decisions made and communicate the reasons for these decisions clearly and promptly.
  • Review all transitional cases such as Mr X’s and write to those affected. If, upon writing to the relevant people, it receives any retrospective applications, it should consider these and record how it reached those decisions. It should report its findings to us. Those that are unsatisfied with its decision can come to the Ombudsman and the Council should direct them as such.
  • Review its policies and procedures around providing escorts, ensuring that risk assessments are conducted when needed and in good time.
  • Review its policies and procedures in relation to carer’s assessments to ensure that Council staff are alert to situations where carers need support. 

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