Wiltshire must pay parents for special needs failures

Wiltshire Council must pay a family £10,000 after it botched the special educational needs of a child with severe autism.

The council was found guilty of maladministration by the local government ombudsman in the case of Laura Taverner (not her real name) who had been assessed and recommended for 24-hour supervision, care and education.

Laura’s parents appealed against the treatment of her case when the package was not in place four months after the recommendation was made.

The council told them it had intended to remove the recommendation from the draft report before it was issued, but had not done so. The council claimed that a support package already in place met Laura Taverner’s needs, but did not explain how a 24-hour curriculum could be met without a residential school placement.

Laura refused to attend a local secondary school and remained at home from January to September 2007 before she obtained a place at a residential special school. During that time her parents complained they had received little further support and suffered a delay in respite care.

The ombudsman ordered the council to apologise to Mr and Mrs Taverner, pay them £10,000 and review its administrative arrangements.   

Jimmy Doyle, Wiltshire Council’s assistant director for children and families, said today: “We fully accept the findings of the local government ombudsman. We apologise to the family for the way this matter has been handled and for the distress it has caused them.

“We have already made changes to the way services are delivered to ensure better communications and co-ordination between education and social care services. We will continue to review the way we provide these types of services to help ensure such a situation does not happen again.”

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