Ombudsman raps Bury over disabled children’s accommodation

Two seriously disabled children spent three years in unsuitable accommodation as a result of failures by Bury Council, a local government ombudsman found today.

In 2002, the family was moved to a four-bedroom house which needed a ground floor extension to accommodate the children’s 24-hour care needs.

But the council did not check that planning permission was feasible and it was later denied, said ombudsman Anne Seex in a report.

Despite concerns from a care agency manager and trainee social worker, the council refused to provide interim adaptations other than a “stair climber” and a hoist in the dining room.

Sam Karim, a barrister at Kings Chambers, who complained to the ombudsman on the family’s behalf, said there had been a “systematic failure” between frontline workers and the people making decisions.

Ombudsman: ‘Social worker’s actions were exemplary’

Seex said management of the case had been ineffective and the council had shown “institutionalised indifference” to the family.

She praised the actions of the family’s social worker as “exemplary” and asked the council to consider the impact on frontline staff if management failed to respond to their recommendations.

Improvements already in place

Eleni Ioannides, director of children’s services at Bury Council, said: “The report makes very uncomfortable reading and we regret the distress this family has experienced. Since then, a lot of things have changed. Many of the individuals [involved in that case] are not working for the council anymore.”

Ioannides said the family was now in appropriate accommodation and the council had already made a range of improvements, such as better systems of recording and communication. The council was also reviewing its complaints system, she said.


The ombudsman recommended that the council should review its procedures for dealing with disabled facilities grants, and review the leadership capacity in the relevant services.

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