Family let down TWICE over vulnerable daughter's care by Northamptonshire County Council

Chief executive of Northamptonshire County Council, Dr Paul Blantern
Chief executive of Northamptonshire County Council, Dr Paul Blantern

The chief executive of Northamptonshire County Council has been criticised for failing to apologise to a family of a vulnerable young person let down by the authority.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said the county council showed "scant respect" for the family after it was criticised twice for failing to provide the young woman with proper school transport, home care and respite.

In 2016, following an initial complaint by the family that was upheld by the ombudsman, the council had promised to improve the services it offered.

A spokesman for the ombudsman said: "In that complaint, the girl’s mother told the Ombudsman the problems they encountered meant the daughter lost at least six months’ of education in her last year at school. This contributed to setting back her progress towards adult life, including being able to move on to post-18 activities and education.

"Following that complaint, the council promised to apologise to the family, pay them a financial remedy and liaise with the family to find out whether they could be offered any additional services to help the daughter make up lost progress.

"Despite the council’s agreement to carry out the Ombudsman’s recommendations within a three-month deadline, the chief executive failed even to apologise," the spokesman said.

It was not until the family complained again to the Ombudsman in 2017 that the council began to provide the previously agreed remedies, the spokesman added.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “I have issued this report against Northamptonshire County Council because I take any breach of an agreement with my findings seriously.

“The county council had ample time to honour its remedies with this family, and their failure to do so has only amplified the injustice.

“People can only have trust in their local councils if they carry out actions which they have promised to do, without prompting.

“While the council has now put in place three of my four recommendations, and is working on providing the fourth, I am disappointed this only took place after further intervention from me.”

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s role is to remedy injustice and share learning from investigations to improve local public, and adult social care, services.

In this case, to remedy the complaint, the council will contact the family about the previous recommendation to consider whether it could offer anything more to help the daughter make up lost progress. It will also pay the daughter £150 and the mother £250 in recognition of its failure to provide a timely remedy. It has also agreed to monitor its new procedure for dealing with Ombudsman recommendations.

A spokesman for the county council said: “We would like to offer a full and frank apology to the family for the way in which their case has been handled, and to the Ombudsman.

“We are now in the process of implementing all of the recommendations set out by the Ombudsman and these will be fully complete within the timescale set out.”