- Mrs B The complainant
- C Her son
Ms B complained that Leicestershire County Council delayed considering her application for school transport to enable her disabled son to attend his post-16 educational placement. She says this in turn delayed her right of appeal and the subsequent provision of transport. As a result Ms B had to pay for her son’s transport to school even after the Council agreed it would put suitable transport in place for him following a successful appeal.
Fault found causing injustice and recommendations 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)
To remedy the injustice caused to Ms B the Council should:
apologise to Ms B for the identified fault and the injustice this caused her;
reimburse the costs Ms B incurred in paying for taxis for the Autumn term minus the Personal Transport Budget (PTB) payments made and the required parental contribution. Ms B will need to provide evidence of the costs to the Council; and
- pay Ms B an additional £500 to recognise the avoidable distress the Council’s poor handling of her application and appeal caused her in the form of frustration, uncertainty, stress and worry.
To resolve the broader issues this investigation has highlighted the Council should:
ensure the information it provides to transport applicants on its website, emails and letters is accurate. This includes information on how long it will take to consider applications and how quickly it will put in place transport following a successful appeal;
consider providing information about the appeals process in relation to Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) transport in the SEND transport policy and/or post-16 transport policy statement policy rather than requiring parents of SEND children to cross refer to the mainstream policy for this information;
consider undertaking an initial triage of basic information on transport applications to ensure issues with, for example, names or missing information, may be identified and dealt with promptly;
ensure that appeals are accepted even if they are completed using the wrong form if the essential information is provided;
devise a system whereby applications for children with an EHC plan where a school is not yet confirmed or the EHC plan is not yet finalised are not unfairly disadvantaged;
provide us with information about the outcomes of the Council’s own review of the points raised by this report; and
- meet the costs of transport if this is being arranged and paid for by parents where it is unable to put in place transport after a successful transport appeal. We understand this may take around four weeks to arrange suitable transport provision. However, when this is not possible, the Council should discuss with the family to agree an acceptable solution, including - where necessary – full reimbursement of agreed and evidenced transport costs incurred by the family.
Ombudsman satisfied with Council's response: 27 June 2023.