Kingston Council told to pay £10,000 to couple for 'wholly unacceptable' delays in care provision

Kingston Council has been told to pay the couple £10,000 for the

Kingston Council has been told to pay the couple £10,000 for the "avoidable" distress

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Kingston Council has been told to pay a disabled husband and his wife £10,000 compensation for a series of failings that led to them not receiving a personal care budget for two years.

A Local Government Ombudsmen report found significant delays in allocating a social worker, organising a personal care budget and carrying out a financial assessment caused "considerable and avoidable distress and uncertainty" to the couple, known as Mr and Mrs C.

The council also failed to provide adequate housing advice and continued to charge the couple council tax on their empty flat after they had moved into rented accommodation.

Ombudsman Jane Martin's report says Mr C has multiple sclerosis, causing loss of sight, mobility sensation and short term memory.

His condition worsened in February 2010, to the point he could no longer move around the couple's flat, which they owned.

When Mr C was admitted to hospital in March that year, his wife told a council housing advice manager that their home was no longer suitable for her husband, and later asked for the authority to consider them homeless.

But despite confirming their homeless status, the council put the couple's application in its lowest priority category, due to its policy on owner-occupiers.

They moved into temporary hostel accommodation after Mr C was discharged from hospital in June 2010.

After the couple agreed to sell their home, the council finally made an offer of a wheelchair adapted bungalow, and the couple moved in in April 2011.

Despite being awarded a single occupier discount on their flat which had been empty since June 2010, the council did not fully exempt the property until the couple moved into the bungalow.

The report also outlines a series of delays in organising a personal care budget, which the couple first asked for in May 2010.

They were not allocated a budget until November 2012.

In her conclusion, Ms Martin said: "It is wholly unacceptable that Mr and Mrs C should have had to wait over two years for the personal budget initially requested in May 2010.

"The council received continual reminders from Mrs C of the couple’s wish.

"It failed to act on those and that was fault."

Ms Martin recommended Kingston Council pay the couple £10,000 "in recognition of the considerable and avoidable distress and uncertainty caused by its actions".

She also advised the council apply a retrospective council tax exemption between June 2010 and April 2011 on the couple's former home, and refund Mrs C all costs paid for during that time.

Ms Martin also recommended Mr C's brother, who made the complaint to the ombudsman by awarded £250 for his time and trouble pursuing the complaint.

The council has three months to consider the report and tell the ombudsman what action it proposes to take.

A Kingston Council spokesman said: “Councillors will consider the ombudsman’s report and recommendations shortly and decide what steps to take.

“This was a complex situation where several council services were supporting the couple at the same time in an effort to help them to lead a normal family life.

“The council commissioned an independent investigation into the matter in 2010, which reached a different conclusion to the Ombudsman.

“The council continues to improve and review the way it does things so that people get the best possible care and support.”

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