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Ombudsman urges Kirklees council to learn from complaints

Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council has been told to learn from complaints after it left a boy with learning difficulties without the full support he needs for three years.

The boy’s mum has had to complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman no fewer than three times in the past two years to get the council to provide the proper support for her son, who has autism and learning difficulties.

The Ombudsman’s investigation into the most recent complaint has found the council at fault for not properly monitoring whether the boy was getting the support he needed, and so failing in its duty to provide what was set out in his Statement of Special Educational Needs.

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

“This continual and repeated failure by Kirklees council to provide this boy with support has had a significant, cumulative effect on his education.

“At no time since 2015 has the boy had all the support he needs, and this has led to the mother losing faith in the council and the support it will offer her son both now and in the future.

“While I welcome the council’s readiness to accept the recommendations laid out in our report, it should not have taken the mother to complain to my office three times to get that support put in place.

“I want to encourage councils to have a mature and reflective attitude to complaints and use the learning gained to improve local services. I hope the council will use this report, and the previous decisions we have made, to reassess the service it offers to families and put in place measures that will prevent this sort of situation happening again.”

In the first complaint to the Ombudsman in 2016, it found the council’s delays in finalising his statement when he moved school phases meant he had to be home educated and did not receive the support his statement said he needed for social development for two terms.

In 2017, the Ombudsman upheld a complaint that the council failed to provide occupational therapy and some speech and language therapy, following a Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal order, which specified that which he needed in his statement.

The mother contacted the Ombudsman for a third time in 2018 stating the council was still not providing all of the boy’s support. He had not been given part of his speech and language therapy for four and a half terms, and had missed out on behavioural therapy for one and a half terms.

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 pay the mother £200 for the unnecessary distress and time and trouble caused by having to bring the complaint. It will also pay her £400 for the term and a half of behaviour therapy her son missed and a further £400 to acknowledge the cumulative effect on her son of the extended period the council has taken to provide the support specified.

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 review its procedures used to monitor and ensure the delivery of special educational provision.

Notes to Editors

In the earlier complaints the council agreed to:

  • 2016 complaint - pay the mother £550 for her to spend on play and social activities to help her son meet the objectives in his Statement related to developing his social skills with other children and adults and to acknowledge the frustration he was caused;
    • pay £600 to acknowledge her lost opportunity to appeal to the Tribunal for 12 months and for the uncertainty and frustration she experienced during these 12 months; 
    • pay £350 to acknowledge the frustration and uncertainty caused when she lost the opportunity to pursue her work during the seven months the son was educated at home;
  • 2017 complaint - pay £300 for the time and trouble of bringing the complaint to the Ombudsman again when she could reasonably have expected the matters to have been resolved by her previous complaint to us;
    • pay £700 to use for the son’s benefit for the two terms’ occupational therapy her son missed from January 2017;
    • pay £200 to use for the son’s benefit for every month from September 2017 that he misses his occupational therapy;
    • pay 350 for her to use for her son’s benefit for the lack of part of  his speech and language therapy for two terms;
    • pay £100 to use for every month from September 2017 the son misses part of  his speech and language therapy

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Original article link: https://www.lgo.org.uk/information-centre/news/2018/oct/ombudsman-urges-kirklees-council-to-learn-from-complaints

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