Council failed to meet disabled man’s eligible need to access community for 14 months

Ombudsman says Westminster council must review cases of other blind adults receiving care to ensure there is provision to meet unmet eligible need

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A local authority breached the Care Act by failing to meet a disabled man’s eligible need to access the community for 14 months, despite it being set out in his care plan

Westminster council’s decision caused injustice to the man, Mr F, who is blind and has physical health problems, and denied him the physical and mental health benefits of getting out for regular walks, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found.

Westminster has accepted the ombudsman’s judgment and agreed to his recommendations to apologise to Mr F, pay him £2,000, and review the cases of other blind adults receiving care and support to ensure there is provision in their personal budget to meet any unmet need to access the community.

No provision for eligible need

Following an assessment in April 2018, Mr F received a care and support plan in August 2018, which provided him with 22.75 hours a week for washing, meal preparation, housework, laundry and shopping. However, while it said Mr F needed support to access the community, there was no provision for this.

After Mr F’s representative complained to the ombudsman in August 2019, the council reviewed his needs in October 2019, providing him with a 28-hour-a-week package that included three and a half hours a week of support to access the community.

This partially remedied the fault, the ombudsman said, but he stressed that Mr F had gone 14 months without provision to meet an unmet eligible need.

“This was a loss of service to which Mr F had a legal entitlement,” the report concluded. “As Mr F is blind, it meant he was denied the opportunity of getting out and accessing activities and services outside his home which would have been of benefit to him.”

A Westminster council spokesperson said the council acknowledged that an error was made in this case and it has since put the matter right, complying in full with the ombudsman’s recommendations.

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