Trafford Council acted against the interests of older woman with mental health problems, Local Government Ombudsman finds

Trafford Council has said it is “surprised and disappointed” by a Local Government Ombudsman report published today accusing it of acting in a “cavalier” manner towards an older woman with mental health problems.
The report says the council acted against the legitimate interests of the woman by refusing to waive the repayment of a housing grant.
The woman, referred to by the false name Mrs Walker for legal reasons, signed the application for a housing renovation grant in January 1998 when she was an in-patient in a psychiatric ward.
In her first report on the case in November last year, Local Government Ombudsman Anne Seex criticised the council for not ensuring the woman fully understood the terms and conditions of the grant at the time. Council officers had also advised councillors that the woman’s state was not relevant.
Mrs Walker’s daughter, who had power of attorney for her mother, then mistakenly breached the grant conditions by arranging to sell the house and the council insisted on a full repayment.
In her second report today, Seex said the council had failed to remedy the injustice by waiving the repayment. “I am dismayed that it has responded in what I can only describe as a cavalier manner to the prejudice of a very vulnerable citizen,” she said.
In response, David McNulty, chief executive of Trafford Council, said: “The council thoroughly investigated this case and council staff will continue to do what they have always done which is present the full facts to councillors for their considered decisions. The council will now consider the Ombudsman’s second report. However, we do know that the council did everything it could to help Mrs Walker in her hours of need.”

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