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Clarity for councils about way Ombudsman will investigate financial assessment complaints

Councils can now be clear about the way the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman will investigate complaints about financial assessments involving personal injury awards, after an application for a judicial review was thrown out by the High Court.

The clarification comes after Wokingham Borough Council challenged an Ombudsman’s decision, originally made in February last year.

The Ombudsman said the council could not take into account the woman’s personal injury award, which was administered by a Deputy appointed by the Court of Protection, when carrying out an assessment of her finances. However, the council argued the settlement the woman received in 1998 should have been sufficient to support her care needs.

The judge found the council’s case was ‘totally without merit’ and the Ombudsman is now asking the council to revisit the report and provide the remedy it recommended nearly 12 months ago.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, Michael King, said:

“The judge has ruled and confirmed our interpretation of the law was within the range of reasonable responses. Councils can be clear about the way we will look at any similar cases that come to my office in future.

“I now urge Wokingham council to consider the report as a matter of urgency and pay the woman the money she is entitled to, and which she has been waiting for since last year while the court case was being settled.”

The woman had received a personal injury award in 1998 for medical negligence dating back to 1975. Her representative first approached Wokingham council for help in June 2015, and in July 2015 the council assessed the woman as needing a care package totalling £3,910 per month.

However, the council did not start paying this money till October 2015, after spending months asking questions about the woman’s financial affairs.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s role is to remedy injustice and share learning from investigations to improve local public, and adult social care, services.

It has asked the council to pay any money she should have received between July 2015 when the council accepted she had eligible needs, and October 2015 when it started making payments.

Article date: 25 January 2018