Cambridgeshire County Council agrees to backdate benefits for family of boy with autism

Cambridgeshire County Council delayed carrying out a core assessment on a six-year-old boy, leaving his family without the financial support package they needed to care for their son.

Following an investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO), the boy, who has autism and relies on his parents to wash, change and dress him, will receive a care package that meets his needs.

The boy’s father first contacted the LGO after his complaint about the assessment process was stalled by officers at the council.

The man complained that an assessment of needs was carried out late and not done properly, meaning that the support monies offered to the family (£3,200) were not based on the boy’s actual needs, but on a ‘best guess’.

In fact, when the council reviewed their resources assessment following the LGO’s intervention, officers established that the boy would need support costing more than double the amount it initially offered.

The father complained to the council and was unhappy with its response to his complaint. He had to ask on four separate occasions for the council to escalate his complaint to the second stage of its complaints process.

Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman said:

“The young boy’s needs were not properly addressed by Cambridgeshire County Council for 17 months.

“On top of this, when the family complained, Cambridgeshire County Council breached statutory guidance by not taking the man’s complaint to the second stage of its process. Councils must conduct a stage two investigation ‘without delay’ once they have received notification and should not attempt to stall that process.”

To remedy the situation, the council has agreed to apologise to the father and offer him £250 to reflect the time and trouble in having to approach the LGO.

The council has also agreed to pay the family 17 months of benefits based on the new needs assessment of £6,539.90 less any monies it has already paid.

Article date: 19 November 2013

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