National Ombudsmen
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Thurrock Council fails to provide adequate care for mother and child

Thurrock Council failed to provide the correct services to a mother and her daughter, the Local Government Ombudsman has found.

The woman, who suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and back pain, complained to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) that the Grays-based council only offered her six hours-a-week of support with her household chores despite its own assessment suggesting she needed 10.5.

The council offered her this support via direct payments, which meant she had to find her own carer.

The woman complained that she struggled with the direct payments. Following an investigation, the LGO has said that the council should have been proactive and commissioned care on the woman’s behalf rather than wait for her to arrange it herself, once officers discovered she was struggling.

The woman also raised concerns about the care provided by an agency commissioned by the council for her 11-year-old daughter, who has autism, communication problems and epilepsy. She said carers failed to attend regularly, and when they did turn up the care was of a poor standard. When she complained to the council, officers told her to take the complaint directly to the agency, despite the council having responsibility for the care it commissions.

Dr Jane Martin said:

“In this case, Thurrock Council claimed it had no influence over the management of the care agency’s staff and its service provision.

“I would like to remind councils that they are responsible for ensuring that the support they commission is provided correctly – whilst a council can choose to outsource service delivery they cannot outsource the accountability to local users.”

The LGO has recommended that Thurrock Council pay the woman £500 to acknowledge that for around seven months she did not receive service despite having eligible need. 

The council should also pay her £1,000 to acknowledge that it did not provide care for the woman’s daughter. The council should also pay the woman £250 for the time and trouble she has spent in pursuing the complaint. 

Report 12 012 268 & 12 005 756 Thurrock Council (38KB)

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