Council ordered to pay mum £1k after failing to update daughter’s care plan

A local authority has been told to pay a mum £1,000 after failing to update her daughter’s care plan.

Bromley council was criticised in a recent Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman report for its poor communication while handling the annual reviews for a child’s Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP).

The report said the authority reviewed the daughter’s EHCP in early June 2022, as her mainstream school claimed they could no longer support her needs.

The council then reportedly told the mum, known as Miss X in the report, that it intended to amend the EHCP to ensure her daughter’s education provision was appropriate. But an amended EHCP was not issued after the review in June.

Bromley council was said to have contacted several schools in the area with numerous ones telling the authority in October and November they could not accommodate the child’s needs.

The ombudsman said a final EHCP was never issued following this 2022 review, and it was not until November 2023 that the council started searching for other schools again.

The mum reportedly told the council in October 2022, that she was removing her daughter from school in order to home school her, based on the advice of a local information and advisory support service. She said she did this while waiting for a placement at a specialist school to become available.

A series of internal emails during November and December reportedly show the council was aware of this. The child’s SEN caseworker was also said to have told a council officer in December they were looking for a specialist placement for the child but that it may take some time to find one.

The authority acknowledged it did not fully consider its duties at this time such as checking how the child’s education would be delivered and checking Miss X was aware of her responsibilities.

The Bromley civic centre, located in Stockwell Close (Picture: Joe Coughlan)

The authority reportedly held another EHCP review with Miss X in May 2023, in which the mum was given information about the support available to her while she was home educating. This included ways to access a household support fund and grocery vouchers.

The mum complained to the council in August 2023, as it had still not found a school placement.

The council then held another review of the child’s EHCP in September 2023, in which the authority apologised for its poor communication while handling the case. It added that the mum’s previous caseworker had moved to another team.

It was agreed in late October that the council would provide 25 hours of tuition per week for the child.

The ombudsman criticised Bromley council’s conduct as the delays in issuing EHCPs meant Miss X could not appeal such decisions.

The authority was instructed to pay Miss X £1,000 to recognise the avoidable distress and uncertainty caused and given the education that her daughter missed, which equated to around half a term.

A Bromley council spokesperson said: “Bromley council had already acknowledged the difficulties it had faced in progressing this EHCP prior to the involvement of the ombudsman. It upheld the complaint, cooperated fully with the ombudsman’s investigation and agreed with the proposed remedial action.

“The council is committed to providing every child in its borough with the best possible education but sometimes struggles when the available resources, both from within the council and outside agencies, are insufficient to provide the service we would wish to the ever-growing numbers of families seeking support. This is the same for every other local authority across the country.”

Pictured top: The Bromley civic centre, located in Stockwell Close (Picture: Joe Coughlan)

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