Lewisham Council failed to consult the mother of two autistic brothers properly when cutting their care plan, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.
Both of the boys have autism and other special educational needs. Their care package included seven hours a week short break payments and 24 nights a year respite accommodation.
Both care packages were reduced on review – including the removal of the respite accommodation for the younger boy – without the mother having the chance to comment.
After she complained, the council took several months to respond properly, the ombudsman Michael King found.
He said: “In this case the children’s situation had not changed but Lewisham Council reduced the level of care it provided. The mother has been left upset about not knowing why their support was reduced, or having any kind of input into its review.
“The statutory children’s complaints procedure is there to protect vulnerable children and young people and has been operational for more than 10 years. Councils should know by now how to identify a children’s services complaint and use the correct process.
“However, regardless of which statutory procedure is used, councils should follow simple good practice: involve people in decisions which affect them, and respond promptly to concerns.”
It recommended the council pay the mother £400 for “distress caused” as well as £150 for the time needed to pursue the complaint.
Lewisham Council spokesperson told www.localgov.co.uk: “We accept the Ombudsman’s findings and we are acting on the recommendations and have apologised. We have already reviewed our processes and procedures that are in place to ensure this situation doesn’t happen again.”
- For the full details of the timeline of the case, the complaint and the Council’s report, read the Ombudsman’s full assessment here.