Redbridge Council failed boy with special educational needs on multiple occasions, damning report reveals

Redbridge Town Hall

Redbridge Town Hall - Credit: Archant

Redbridge Council has accepted the criticisms and apologised to the family.

A child with severe learning disabilities suffered “a significant disadvantage” after Redbridge Council’s failures led to him missing out on nearly two years of specialist support since 2008.

The council has been ordered to pay the family, whose details have not beeen released, £1,000 for the “distress” it caused to the parents and the boy.

It will also pay them a further £800 to be spent on a family holiday, due to the “injustice” the council’s actions caused the child.

Over the past nine years, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has upheld four separate complaints made by the family against the council.

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In 2008, the family complained to the body after the council failed to provide the young boy with occupational therapy for 12 months.

As a result of the fault, the council agreed to pay the family £800 to acknowledge the injustice caused and a further £500 to apologise for “distress”.

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In 2010, the family complained again after the young boy missed out on three months of occupational therapy,

The council agreed to pay the parents £200 for the three months that he did not receive therapy and £250 to apologise for the time and trouble the parents spent sorting the problem out.

In 2015, the family contacted the ombudsman after the council failed to provide the child with occupational therapy for just over two months.

As a result of the faults identified, the council said it would pay the family £250 for the unnecessary time and trouble they were put too and another £250 for distress.

This latest complaint to the ombudsman came after his parents discovered the boy had been without the one-to-one support needed for five months, until the school decided to provide the support without the council’s input.

Despite not having the powers to do so, a council decision-making panel decided not to fund the 30 hours a week one-to-one support.

The council did not tell the parents, who only found out about the decision when the school told them the support would no longer be provided.

The parents complained and the council’s own investigation upheld a number of points, including that its panel may have been acting illegally when it withdrew support.

Now the ombudsman has blasted the council over its failure “to learn from its mistakes.”

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said he hoped the council would improve

He said: “The best councils use our investigations to learn from their mistakes and help improve services for everyone.

“It is particularly worrying that Redbridge Council has repeatedly failed the same family.

“While I acknowledge the council had already identified many of the faults my investigation found with the family’s complaint, there was little appreciation of the cumulative effect its on-going failings had on their son.

”I hope the changes Redbridge has now made will result in a significantly improved service both for this family and for others with children who have special needs, and go some way to restoring the family’s trust that the council can properly support their son.”

A Redbridge Council spokeswoman said the authority was reviewing a number of its procedures and train staff to ensure the failings identified in the report are not repeated.

It will report back to the ombudsman in three months.

She said: “We apologise sincerely for the historic failings of the council and deeply regret the families experience.

“The level of service and support provided fell well below reasonably expected standards.

“We fully accept the report’s findings and we are implementing the recommendations made.”

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