Decision details

Decision to Award Compensation as Recommended by the Local Government Ombudsman - JUN21/CMDN/04

Decision Maker: Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education, Skills and the University

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: Yes

Purpose:

The Cabinet Member authorised the payments of £1,050 and £350 (£1,400 in total) in line with the settlement amount recommended by the Local Government Ombudsman.

 

Reasons for the decision:

The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) investigated a complaint from a family in which a young person had an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP). An annual review for the EHCP was held in July 2019 and it was agreed that amendments should be made to the plan. In December 2019, following a number of incidents at school, it was agreed an alternative placement was required and the school agreed to maintain the pupil on roll and provide suitable work for him to complete during the transition period. In February 2020 the parents raised a complaint about the lack of placement for the young person, but there was no record of any response to this complaint. The LA issued a final EHCP in March 2020, just as the UK was entering the first lockdown due to COVID and this resulted in the young person not being placed on roll at an appropriate school. The LA undertook a search of an appropriate school between July and September 2020 and a placement was secured and the young person started at a school provision from December 2020. The parent was unhappy with the delay in securing this placement and complained to the Ombudsman.

 

As a result, the LGO has recommended that within one month the LA should write to the family and apologise for the uncertainty, frustration and trouble it had caused when delaying the completion of the annual review process, consulting with schools and for not responding to the their complaint. The LGO has recommended that a payment of £350 should be made to the parents in compensation for this matter. Additionally, the LGO has recommended that within the same time frame of one month, payment to the parents of £1050 should be made to spend on the young person, in any way the family sees fit, to remedy the injustice the LA’s faults caused them.

 

Following this case, The LGO has agreed with Peterborough County Council to undertake the following actions :

 

Within three months of the final decision the LA should:

 

• review its processes to ensure it is carrying out annual reviews, issuing decision notices and finalising amended Education, Health and Care Plans in line with the statutory guidelines; 

 

• review its processes to ensure it responds to complaints it receives in a timely manner;

 

• remind staff of the importance of good record keeping particularly when holding

meetings with schools when the welfare and educational provision of young people is discussed

 

Alternative options considered:

The Local Government Ombudsman cannot make the Council do what is suggested in their Notice of Decision , however if the Council were to disagree with the suggested remedy the Ombudsman may be required to write a formal report in response to this.  Where a formal report against a Council is issued the Ombudsman will make this public unless there are special reasons not to.

 

The complainants made a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman about theCouncil’s decision and the subsequent investigation has identified evidence of fault and suggested the Council take steps to remedy the injustice. The Council agrees with the suggestions proposed by the Ombudsman.

Interests and Nature of Interests Declared:

None.

Background Documents:

None.

Publication date: 10/06/2021

Date of decision: 10/06/2021

Effective from: 16/06/2021

Accompanying Documents: