Lack of support given to carer sees council ordered to pay four-figure sum

Town Hall.

Town Hall. - Credit: Archant

A father ‘struggled’ to care for his son without support for 20 weeks after North Somerset Council failed to provide him with adequate information about carer’s assessments.

An investigation by the Local Government and Social Care (GSC) Ombudsman found the father was unable to make an informed choice about what support he could receive from the authority after he became a carer for his son, who has learning difficulties.

The dad complained about the council’s decision to charge his son for day care while he lived with him.

He also complained about a delay in finding an alternative placement and a lack of support for himself as a carer at a time when he had some health issues and had recently lost his wife, which caused him added ‘physical and emotional strain’.

The ombudsman blamed a lack of record-keeping for the council’s inability to evidence whether it had offered the father a carer’s assessment, something he said had been mentioned but not followed up.

The council also failed to explain his son would need to contribute to the cost of attending a day care centre after moving in with his dad, leaving him with an unexpected bill of £1,485.42.

In June 2016, the youngster went to live with his father after the placement he was living in broke down, all parties expected this would be a short-term arrangement but he ended up staying with his father for 21 weeks, only moving into a new placement in October.

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The report said the dad felt he had to offer accommodation to his son because he ‘had nowhere else to go’ and did not pursue a carer’s assessment because he was told support would be means-tested.

He therefore assumed he would not qualify, leading to him caring for his son without support.

No direct payments to obtain support for his caring role were offered, with the council arguing this would have taken time to set up and caused him extra burden.

The ombudsman ruled the council was at fault and the authority agreed to pay £1,000 for the injustice caused by the failure to consider and provide support.

A council spokesman said: “We have carried out all the agreed actions regarding the case and the ombudsman is satisfied with this and is no longer involved in the case.”