Ombudsman repeats call for council to compensate couple for failure to provide 24-hour care

Watchdog criticises Shropshire council for rejecting its call to pay £61,270 to couple for failure to assess and lack of adequate care

The Local Government Ombudsman has repeated its call for a council to pay a couple over £60,000 in compensation for failing to provide adequate care.

The watchdog took the rare step of issuing a second report into the case this week after Shropshire council rejected its recommendation to pay the husband, Mr Ryan, £61,270, for care he provided to his wife, Mrs Ryan, that the authority should have provided itself.

In its original report, published last May, the ombudsman found there was strong evidence that Mrs Ryan needed 24-hour care for her complex mental health problems, which were mostly met by her husband.

However, the council did not carry out a formal assessment of Mrs Ryan’s needs, or Mr Ryan’s needs as a carer, but, instead, provided an ad hoc programme of care through direct payments covering 50 hours a week, between March 2008 and April 2010.

Yet between March 2008 and April 2010 the council only provided direct payments for 50 hours per week of care, the report said.

The ombudsman, Jane Martin, found Mr Ryan had to leave his job to care for his wife, which also meant he lost his career prospects and pension contributions. Martin also found the council did not operate its complaints procedure properly.

At a meeting on in July 2013, the council agreed to the ombudsman’s other recommendations, which were to apologise to the couple, pay them £1,000 for their time and trouble in bringing the case and to review the way it handles similar cases.

But a council report, approved at the meeting, argued that it was “wholly disproportionate” to pay Mr Ryan the £61,270 recommended by the ombudsman. Instead it said he should be entitled to his loss of earnings minus any payments the council had made to him for care he gave to his wife.

But Martin, said she had issued the second report because she was “not satisfied” with this proposal, as it would be hard to put a figure on Mr Ryan’s lost earnings, pension contributions and promotion prospects. She called on the council to make the payment she had recommended in the first report.

Lee Chapman, cabinet member for adult services at Shropshire Council, said: “We are considering the ombudsman report which will go to a meeting of full council.” The date on which the report will be considered has not been agreed.

“Public services must ultimately be accountable to the people that use them, through democratically elected councillors,” said Martin. “Members of Shropshire Council should now give careful consideration to the contents of my further report.

“If the public cannot have confidence that injustices will be remedied it will significantly undermine their trust in both public services and in their elected representatives.”

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