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Council failed to carry out works promised as part of care order: Ombudsman's report

Family left in overcrowded conditions for more than a decade

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has reported that a Lancashire mother of three, who also took on the care of her two grandchildren, had to sleep on a mattress in her living room for more than 10 years because the county council did not deliver the support it had agreed to. The woman, who already had young children living with her in a small three-bedroomed terraced house, was promised an extension by Lancashire County Council as part of a care order granted in 2005. However, it was not till 2011 the council agreed a budget for the work. The project was beset by delay, and the cost of the proposed works increased significantly. By 2016 the proposed costs had increased by £50,000 and the council told the woman the extension would no longer be built.

The investigation also found the council delayed deciding whether to provide the family with a people-carrier type vehicle in response to the court order. It eventually paid for a vehicle in 2016. The Ombudsman has also criticised the council for not agreeing to pay for storage of some of the family's belongings over a three-year period.

The council has now agreed to write and send an apology to the woman, and pay her £24,000 to reflect the avoidable distress she and her family suffered living in overcrowded conditions for 10 years. It will also pay her £500 for the distress and uncertainty she suffered because of its failure to make a decision in line with the care order on funding for a people carrier. It will also reimburse all her storage costs for the period of December 2016 to January 2019.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said:

"Lancashire County Council agreed to extend the woman's property as part of a Care Order, which was made to promote the welfare of her two vulnerable grandchildren. The council failing to comply with the order is extremely serious, and it could have put the children's placement at risk."

For a report, click here. For the official report of the investigation, click on the link at the right top corner of that page.