Councils across England should ensure their education transport policies properly support young adults with disabilities, ombudsman warns.
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has ruled against Lewisham Council after a mother complained the authority insisted she take her adult son to college using his Motability car, rather than consider providing him with transport.
The mother told the council she was unwilling to drive her son to the college identified in his Education Health and Care (EHC) Plan because to do so would stop her from returning to work.
The ombudsman’s investigation found the council at fault for not following law and statutory guidance.
This guidance requires councils to provide free transport, where necessary, to enable young adults up to 25 to attend their named college, and prevents councils making unreasonable demands of family carers.
‘Where a college is named in a young adult’s EHC Plan, a council must consider how the young person will travel to college and whether it needs to provide free transport to ensure they can attend,’ said ombudsman Michael King.
‘Councils across the country should have policies explicitly stating what transport support they will provide for these young adults.
‘They cannot offload the responsibility onto parents, when they have their own demands on their time, and are under no obligation to meet the needs of another adult.
‘I would urge other councils across the country to use the lessons from this report to scrutinise their own transport policies and ensure they meet the latest guidance.’
Ombudsman King ordered Lewisham Council to pay the mother £100 a week from September 2016, until new arrangements are put in place, to recognise her time and expenses providing unpaid care to transport her son.
The council has been approached for comment.