Agenda item

Report by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

(To receive a report by Roz Cordy, Assistant Director - Adult Care and Wellbeing, which invites the Committee to consider a report on the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, which is due to be considered by the Executive on 5 October 2021.  The views of the Scrutiny Committee will be reported to the Executive as part of its consideration of this item)




Consideration was given to a report by the Roz Cordy Assistant Director of Adult Care and Wellbeing and Pam Clipson, Head of Finance, Adult Care and Community Wellbeing which invited the committee to consider a report on the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman which was due to be considered by the Executive on 5 October 2021.


Members were advised that the Ombudsman had issued a report, attached at Appendix A, following an allegation of maladministration by the Council in the exercise of its adult social care functions. The Ombudsman had concluded that the Council was guilty of maladministration and that this caused injustice and included recommendations that he considered would be necessary to remedy the injustice in this case.


The Ombudsman's recommendations to the Council could be found in the report attached at appendix B. It was also accepted that there was a requirement for the Council to act with all possible urgency to move from a net to a gross payment arrangement consistent with properly managing the risks of the change for the Council, providers and service users, and therefore the report recommended that the Executive approved the actions taken to implement change in systems to bring about the changes required to its payment mechanism.


Members supported the recommendations as set out in the Executive report and during the discussion the following points were noted:


·         The committee was reassured that adequate testing carried out before the new payment system was officially launched in April 2020. Weekly testing was already taking place between the council's finance and IT departments and external service providers.

·         The amount each individual paid towards their care was the assessed contribution financially. For instances where another party chose to top up their care, it was not necessarily paid by the service user. 

·         The council covered any core payments and any third party top ups were paid to the provider directly.

·         Officers did not expect a large increase in care home beds so did not foresee there being an issue with dealing with capacity for processing the payments.

·         Going forward, the council would be bringing in whole person reporting, meaning that service users would have one point of contact within the council, rather than being involved with a large number of departments. It was hoped that this would improve the service for individual service users and minimise errors leading to ombudsman complaints.

·         The complexity of the system for assessing the financial eligibility of people for social care funded by the local authority was acknowledged. 

·         It was a benefit of the new arrangements that the pressures on care providers would be alleviated.

·         There was a suggestion that training for all relevant staff should be reviewed.  Practitioners, who were experts in the assessment of care needs, were not necessarily experts in finance. Members were reassured that dedicated phone lines and email accounts had been set up to assist service users, with support available from adult care and finance backgrounds to assist. It was wished to be noted for the record that two members of the committee raised a specific need for training for staff who provided advice on the service.

·         It was confirmed that the local authority was always responsible for accrued arrears, even if the council had not been informed. However, providers could only claim for the arrears of those who were currently in care.

·         There was a suggestion that where arrears in payments for 'top up' payments were accruing, support and advice could be provided to families at an earlier stage.




1.      That the committee support the recommendations to the Executive, as set out in the report;

2.      That a summary of the above comments be passed on to the Executive as part of their consideration of this item.


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