Liverpool City Council has apologised after two teenage siblings with significant needs were not provided with the support they should have received for one and a half years.
The siblings, who have multiple disabilities including visual impairments and complex communication needs, both have Education, Health and Care Plans. As part of these plans, the council agreed to provide them with support to access social activities in term-time and the school holidays.
Liverpool City Council organised for a provider to help the siblings, but the provider was not able to offer the appropriate support. The mother instead asked the council to give her a personal budget so she could source her own support.
However, instead of the council giving the mother the £25 per hour it was prepared to pay its provider, it only allowed her to pay £8.21 per hour. She found this amount insufficient to commission the special support the siblings needed.
The mother complained but Liverpool City Council refused to pay her the same amount it was offering the provider.
The siblings have missed two thirds of the provision they should have received for 18 months, with one teen missing out on average nine hours’ support and the other 12 hours each week.
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman investigated and criticised the city council’s ‘lack of initiative’.
‘The council’s lack of initiative to deviate from its set policy of providing support has had a huge impact on this family,’ said Ombudsman Michael King.
‘Not only have the teenagers not had the social support to which they were entitled, but the mother having to take on that role has affected her own health, friendships and social life.
‘This poor handling of the family’s complaint was exacerbated by the council taking too long to rectify the family’s situation when it accepted it was wrong.
‘I’m pleased Liverpool council has already agreed to amend its Direct Payments Policy and hope the measures it will put in place will ensure other families are not put in the same situation.’
Responding to the report, a Liverpool City Council spokesperson said: ‘We wholeheartedly apologise to the family for the delays and errors in this case. We fully accept the findings of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, will comply with their recommendations and will be taking steps to review our Direct Payments Policy.’