William Eichler 01 December 2016

Council urged to accept Ombudsman's decision on care contribution

The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) has urged a council to reconsider its refusal to fund a disabled man’s care.

St Helens Council refused to provide or fund home care services for a man who suffered a road traffic accident, despite an assessment concluding he had ‘critical needs’.

Social workers delayed completing a care plan for him and failed to complete a financial assessment to determine what contribution the man should pay towards his care.

The council argued the man should have used his substantial damages claim of £2,850,000 to fund his care, and stated funding the care would amount to ‘double recovery’.

An LGO investigation concluded the man should not have to use a personal injury settlement to fund litigation against a public authority.

It also found the council at fault for not completing a care plan or financial assessment after the initial assessment was carried out, and for failing to pass on a copy of the care plan completed following the second assessment.

St Helens Council has considered the Ombudsman’s findings and decided not to accept them.

LGO Dr Jane Martin said: ‘My report in July stated the legal position in this case was clear, and my position has not changed since then.

‘I would not expect this vulnerable man to have to use his personal injury award to take legal proceedings against St Helens Council.

‘I would urge the council to reconsider its response to my report and provide the remedy I have recommended.’

A St Helens Council spokesman said: ‘The council has previously given serious consideration to the points made by the Local Government Ombudsman in this sensitive matter.

‘In particular, the council has considered the relevant case law, but has found itself in disagreement with the conclusions which the Ombudsman has reached in applying relevant case law to the facts of the complaint.’

The spokesperson said the council had a duty to use its ‘scarce resources’ carefully and is of the view that ‘Mr A’s personal injury award of £2,850,000 is sufficient to fund his care.’

The council spokesman did note they would consider the LGO’s report in a ‘fair and balanced way’ before responding.

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