Essex Council has agreed to pay £7,500 in compensation to a woman who became the primary carer for her step-granddaughter after the local government ombudsman found she was left to struggle financially.
The women, referred to as Mrs Graham for legal reasons, has also had a £90 weekly payment from the council reinstated to help with nursery fees.
In a ruling issued today, ombudsman Tony Redmond said Graham “was let down” by the council, but welcomed its decision to fully accept the recommendations made in his report.
The case goes back to August 2006 when Graham obtained a residence order for her step-daughter’s new-born baby, referred to as Juliet. Graham had been receiving £90 a week towards the costs for a full-time nursery place, but after obtaining the order she was means-tested and told that she no longer qualified for assistance.
Council failed to follow policy
Redmond found that the council had not properly explained the situation and that Graham had not been given a means-test prior to obtaining the residence order, contrary to the council’s own policy. The expenses she incurred in placing Juliet in a nursery to enable her to work had also not taken into account in the assessment.
Redmond said: “While councils have responsibilities to ‘children in need’, they also have responsibilities to provide proper support to those people who agree to take on the primary care and upbringing of such children.”
Graham’s compensation covers the payments she missed out on since 2006. The council is now reviewing its procedures and issuing revised training to staff.