Council urged to reconsider response to report

St Helens Town Hall
St Helens Town Hall

St Helens Council has been asked to reconsider its response to a report into a complaint about a disabled man’s care.

The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) asked the council to reconsider after it decided not to accept the findings of a report produced by the ombudsman which found the authority was at fault after refusing to fund care for the man.

In the original report, issued in July, the LGO upheld the man’s complaint that the council refused to fund his care because he had been awarded a personal injury claim in court.

St Helens Council refused to provide or fund home care services for the man, despite an assessment concluding he had “critical needs”. Social workers also delayed completing a care plan for him and failed to complete a financial assessment to determine what contribution the man should pay towards his care.

The man’s deputy complained to the council and, when she was not satisfied with the council’s response, complained to the LGO.

During the LGO’s investigation, the council argued the man should have used his substantial damages claim to fund his care, and stated funding the man’s care would amount to “double recovery”. It also argued the issue should have been litigated in court.

The investigation decided the man should not have to use a personal injury settlement received on account of a road traffic accident to fund litigation against a public authority.

It found the council at fault for not completing a care plan after the initial assessment was carried out, and for failing to pass on a copy of the care plan completed following the second assessment. It also found the council at fault for not carrying out a financial assessment.

St Helens Council, after deciding not to accept the LGO’s findings, reiterated the complaint raised the issue of “double recovery” which needed to be decided by the High Court.

Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman, said: “My report in July stated the legal position in this case was clear, and my position has not changed since then. I would not expect this vulnerable man to have to use his personal injury award to take legal proceedings against St Helens Council.

“I would urge the council to reconsider its response to my report and provide the remedy I have recommended.”

St Helens Council has said it disagrees with the conclusions reached by the ombudsman in the report but will consider the report and its recommendations in a balanced way.

A spokesman said: “The council has previously given serious consideration to the points made by the Local Government Ombudsman in this sensitive matter.

“In particular, the council has considered the relevant case law, but has found itself in disagreement with the conclusions which the Ombudsman has reached in applying relevant case law to the facts of the complaint.

“The council has a duty to use increasingly scarce resources as effectively as possible and is of the view that Mr A’s personal injury award of £2,850,000 is sufficient to fund his care.

“However, having now received the Local Government Ombudsman’s latest report, the council will consider the report and its recommendations in a fair and balanced way prior to responding to the ombudsman within the specified period.”