Payout ordered over respite care failings

Photo Ian Robinson'Preston landmarks'County Hall
Photo Ian Robinson'Preston landmarks'County Hall
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The family of a severely disabled girl has been awarded £7,500 in compensation after Lancashire County Council failed to fund appropriate respite care.

The family, who live in north Lancashire, had been in receipt of funding which gave them one weekend a month of respite care for their daughter who needs constant care. The package allowed the family, including two other children, the chance to spend time together.

When that placement was no longer suitable in June 2009, LCC was judged by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) to have failed to provide adequate replacement care or offer the correct amount of additional funding to purchase an alternative. The council also failed to review the case for two years.

Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman, said: “The family has been affected during a crucial stage in the siblings’ schooling causing them a great deal of distress. Lancashire County Council should have reviewed the family’s options much earlier than they did.

“I am particularly concerned that the council said it was making direct payments that could have been used to purchase other services, when in fact the rate at which they were paid was so low that the family were limited to just one provider. This is contrary to the intentions of a policy designed to give people greater personal choice over provision of service.”

Louise Taylor, executive director for children and young people, said: “We accept the findings of the Local Government Ombudsman and I’d like to offer an unreserved apology to this family.

“I am confident that we have put measures in places to address the issues raised by this case.”