Hampshire County Council has been forced to repay the cost of private social care to parents after it failed to provide adequate services for their child, who has special needs.

The local government and social care ombudsman published its investigation into "maladministration" and "service failure" at Hampshire County Council.

The council has offered a total of £2,500 in compensation for their "inaction" and the frustration they caused the family.

The complaint stated that Mr and Mrs X’s son, B, who has learning disabilities, was eligible for assessed needs and that since the council had delayed commissioning a suitable service for him, his parents had been forced to private social care.

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This was a “considerable amount” of money for B's parents.

B, as he is named in the report, is a young adult with a learning disability and an education health and care plan (ECHP). In 2021, while living at home with his parents, he attended college daily.

However, his parents said the commute was too tiring for him and that it would be better if he had a residential placement during term time.

The council assessed B’s eligible social care needs in December 2021. The assessment concluded the child had eligible support needs resulting from a mental impairment and a worker from the learning disability team should work with him and his family to meet those needs “not being met by college, his buddy workers and college”.

After a new social worker was allocated, the council decided it wouldn’t support a residential placement. After delays, Mr X said this kind of placement would be best for his son and complained there had been maladministration from the council – an allegation it denied.

In January 2023, B’s parents told the social worker they were paying for their child’s private “buddy” scheme. This scheme could have been commissioned through the council. Still, the social worker was “unable” to find an available provider.

It was not until May 2023 that the council confirmed to the parents that the residential placement had been agreed and three months later the service manager replied to a complaint, admitting there had been a lack of communication over recent months.

The manager said it was inappropriate to keep the family waiting and apologised.

Mr X stated that from January 2022 to January 2023, including the initial assessment and the period the family has already been reimbursed, the costs totalled £3,900.

The ombudsman’s report said that despite the complaints, B still does not have a care and support plan or personal budget, although these were requested a year ago.

As part of the compensation due to the “cumulative” period of “confusion, distress and anxiety” for the family, the council offered £500 for the “frustration” caused and another £2,000 in recognition of missed provision and delays and “inactions” caused to them.

A spokesperson for Hampshire County Council said: “We always try to do our very best to get things right first time for Hampshire residents, and we take any issues raised very seriously. Where we haven’t been able to resolve things directly with members of the public, we work closely with the Local Government Ombudsman to address the issue, to learn from our mistakes and improve our services along the way.

“In the case of B and his family, we have accepted in full the recommendations of the ombudsman, have apologised to the family of the person concerned and made the recompense as recommended by the ombudsman. Steps have also already been taken to apply the findings of this case.”