Council cuts London family’s support for disabled son without reassessment

A man with special needs should not have had his support package significantly cut by London Borough of Bromley, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.

The man, who has autism and other needs, and his mother had been in receipt of support which included one-to-one care, transport costs and a placement in a care centre.

However, the London Borough of Bromley significantly cut the level of support at short notice, without reassessing the family’s needs, leaving the man’s mother to support her son during the holidays.

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

“Families with significant care needs like this rely on the right support being provided in the right way, and at the right time. Councils cannot change care packages at short notice and without making the proper assessments.

“I am pleased Bromley council has agreed to my recommendations to improve its services and welcome the changes it will now put in place.”

The man, who is in his early 20s, was at a residential college in another area. During the holidays, the man attended a day centre, and also received a set number of hours one-to-one support.

But in 2015, despite the council not reassessing the man, it reduced the number of hours it paid for the one-to-one care. The man’s mother had to provide the rest of the care herself.

At the same time, the man’s day-care centre closed, and the council failed to identify an alternative placement, or pay a comparable amount to fund replacement care. Again the mother had to provide the care, while the man missed out on accessing stimulating activities outside of his home.

When the council did pay the family for the care, the money they received was not paid in consistent amounts, or at fixed times. The council suspended the payments for 17 months as the mother could not provide the evidence the council rightly needed to account for the money. But when the council backdated the money, it put it into a holding account which the mother could not access. This meant there was no money available to support the man during the holidays.

And when the mother complained to the council about her circumstances, it never replied or responded to her complaint.

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

In this case, the council has agreed to apologise and pay the family £2,865 to reflect the time, trouble and distress it caused.

The Ombudsman has the power to make recommendations to improve a council ’s processes for the wider public. In this case the council has agreed to ensure care and support is reviewed at least on an annual basis.

It will also ensure that money paid periodically for a fixed period of care is paid at specific times and in specific amounts.

The council has also agreed to review its use of ‘holding accounts’ so emergency money sent to individuals is immediately accessible; and train officers so complaints are responded to in full.

Article date: 30 May 2018