A London council has been criticised for reducing the care and support packages of two autistic brothers without involving their mother in the decision.
A report from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) criticised Lewisham council for failing to involve the mother in the assessment and decision making process properly before it decided the younger boy did not need respite accommodation and reduced his direct payments.
It also said the council failed to take the mother’s complaint through the statutory children’s complaint procedure and then delayed dealing with her complaint once it had gone though the proper process.
‘In this case the children’s situation had not changed but Lewisham council reduced the level of care it provided,’ said LGO Michael King.
‘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.’
The council was told to apologise and pay the mother £400 for the avoidable distress caused and a further £150 for the time and trouble in pursuing her complaint.
A Lewisham Council spokesperson said: ‘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.’