An interesting and disturbing case has arrived at Leaky Towers via a source on Twitter which we think gives a telling insight into how Wirral Council’s Department of Adult Social Services (DASS) still works when it comes to the way they treat people with disabilities – despite their repeated cries of ‘lessons have been learned’ ‘transformation’ and ‘ choice’
The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) made a ruling on a case involving a disabled woman from Wirral in February of this year. Publishing the report on their website some time later they found that :
The Council was at fault in reducing Ms B’s care hours without a reassessment of her needs. It has now agreed that she can receive care again from her previous (preferred) provider, and will restore her care hours to the previous level assessed to meet her needs. The Council agrees to reimburse Ms B’s representatives for the costs they have incurred in paying privately for care for some hours she has missed, and make a payment to them in acknowledgement of their time and trouble in pursuing the complaint. It will also offer Ms B a payment in acknowledgement of the distress this matter has caused her, which will equal the cost of the care hours she has missed.
This is a particularly significant ruling and testimony to the perseverance and determination of those seeking justice in this case. We stress this as it should not be under-estimated just how hard historically it has been for a complainant to get a ruling of maladministration from the LGO . Written evidence submitted by LGO Watch and Public Service Ombudsman Watchers to the Communities and Local Government Committee in 2012 is particularly critical of the LGO’s poor record on rulings in favour of complainants and cites Wirral Council as a case study. Although we do need to acknowledge that this was 4 years ago and it was the year that saw the publication of the damning Independent Review of Wirral Council , unfortunately there is very little to suggest that the conclusions reached about how Wirral Council operated then are any different now (see below).
Talking of which we were particularly interested to see the reference in the LGO ruling to Wirral Council having to make a payment amounting to £500 for the ‘time and trouble’ of the complainants. The phrase reminded us of a story we published earlier this year where we made reference to the Wirralgate complainants being offered a much more generous £3,000 (presumably x 4) by Wirral Council for their ‘time and trouble’ despite the fact that there has been no published report upholding their complaints.
Surely this begs the following questions : Firstly, if the Wirralgate complainants were not happy with a 3 grand bung , why weren’t they advised to take their complaint to the LGO ? and secondly , why instead did they get a bespoke inquiry which is seemingly concerned primarily with a potentially even larger compensation payment?.
We suppose the answer to these questions brings us back to the conclusion submitted in written evidence to the CLG Committee referenced above : No wonder councils like Wirral can get away with cover-ups and maladministration for years….until of course someone else does the LGO’s job and exposes council cover ups and maladministration.