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‘Financially motivated’ council cut autistic man’s care package

A Nottinghamshire man with autism was forced to rely on his parents to part-fund his care after Nottinghamshire County Council cut his care package, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.

The watchdog said the man, who lives with his parents, had been receiving the same care package for 12 years before the council reduced his budget by a third without identifying whether a cheaper way of meeting his needs could be found.

The ombudsman said his budget was cut following an assessment in 2014 which found that the hourly rate charged by his care provider was above the council’s standard rate, leaving his parents to fund the difference to maintain their son’s continuity of care, and pay mileage costs.

Investigators also criticised the council for failing to review the man’s needs again until 2017 and said it was at fault for not properly considering the mother’s needs as a carer for both her son and her sick husband.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care ombudsman, said: ‘In this case the council reduced the man’s care package so he had to fund the shortfall from his benefits, which even then were not enough. His parents had little choice but to cover the cost of this, despite their son’s level of care having not changed in more than 12 years.

‘While councils can consider the financial cost when deciding how much to pay a person to meet their eligible needs, they cannot make care decisions based solely on those financial considerations. This is what Nottinghamshire appears to have done in this case.

‘I now call on the council to review my report and accept the recommendations I have made to improve the services it provides to this family and others across the county.’

The watchdog said the council should apologise to the family and review the man’s assessment in order to produce a care and support plan that reflects his needs, explaining in detail how these needs will be met.

It should also make a symbolic payment of £1,000 and reimburse his parents for everything they have spent to top-up their son’s care, along with a further  £1,000 payment to the man’s mother to acknowledge its failure to provide allocated respite funds, review her carer’s assessment and produce a support plan setting out how her needs will be met.

It said the council should It should complete a new financial assessment and consider all relevant Disability Related Expenditure (DRE) consider if other people have been similarly affected and take any necessary action to address this and should amend its policies, procedures and leaflets to address the Ombudsman’s concerns.

Ainsley Macdonnell, Service Director at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: ‘We accept the findings of the Ombudsman’s report.

‘We have already apologised to the family for the distress this situation has caused them.

‘We are working to comply with the recommendations and will report back on the actions we have taken.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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