Ombudsman rules council neglected Down’s Syndrome woman

A Government Ombudsman ruling will see Croydon Council pay nearly £5,000 to a family after it was found to have failed in his duties to a young disabled woman.

Jo Negrini: another ruling against her council

This is the second finding of this kind against the council this year, amid a growing mass of evidence that the council’s social services is not delivering the service expected.

Eleanor Brazil, a Government-appointed commissioner, is currently in charge of the council’s children’s services department after Ofsted inspectors in September ruled that that element of the council’s operation, overseeing children in care, fostering and adoption, was “inadequate”.

Brazil is expected to deliver a report on the progress in bringing the department up to an acceptable standard next month, and the expectation is that she will recommend that Whitehall officials continue to supervise the council department.

As with the failed children’s services department, responsibility for the latest ombudsman ruling comes under the People department which has been run for just over a year by Barbara Peacock, one of the first senior appointments made by Jo Negrini as chief executive.

This latest ruling followed a complaint about the council’s adult services. A previous complaint, also upheld against the council, involved the services provided for disabled children. In both cases brought to the ombudsman, the council failings pre-date Peacock’s arrival at Fisher’s Folly.

In the summer, a grandmother, the sole carer for a disabled child, won an appeal to the ombudsman after she had been abandoned by Croydon Council for three years, without any respite care as she and her grandson are entitled to. The grandmother told Inside Croydon that the despair caused by the predicament she was placed in by Croydon Council, and the “Rottweiler behaviour” of some council staff had pushed her to the brink of suicide.

Yesterday we reported the case of the Watson family, who have a litany of correspondence that has not been dealt with promptly by the council, as they seek a secure school place for their adoptive, disabled son.

And now the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has upheld another complaint in the case of a young woman with Down’s Syndrome, after it found that despite being made aware of the woman’s situation, Croydon failed to ensure her care and that support continued without disruption.

“This situation has placed considerable strain on the family; the father has come close to not being able to pay his mortgage and other bills, and the daughter has missed out on social time with people her own age, which has had a significant effect on her well-being,” a spokesperson for the ombudsman said.

“The council has failed in its duties under the Care Act, which states it should have ensured continuity of care for the family when the woman moved into its area. I am pleased the council has readily accepted my recommendations, and now urge it to put appropriate support measures in place as soon as possible.”

The family had moved to Croydon, but after nearly two years the council had not started to provide the care payments which had been made to them when living under a different local authority. After being contacted by the woman’s father, Croydon Council agreed to repay the full amount of direct payments that it should have previously paid. They confirmed this in writing.

But then the council failed to make good on its promises. One council official said they would only repay a significantly reduced amount.

The council also failed to provide any support for the disabled woman, leaving her father once again to pick up the tab, at the expense of his own mortgage repayments and other bills.

The family is receiving £2,500 from Croydon Council to use towards a holiday or activities that they have missed out on over the past year, the woman is being paid £750 to recognise the distress and impact the lack of support has had on her well-being, and a further £1,500 is being paid to the father to recognise the distress and time and trouble the council’s actions have caused.

The council said, “A comprehensive care plan is now in place and we have reviewed and strengthened our procedures to ensure continuation of care when a client relocates.”

It is a formulation of words which is becoming all too familiar.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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