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Payout and apology for disabled man left isolated after Norfolk council’s care cut blunder

PUBLISHED: 16:39 09 July 2019 | UPDATED: 17:02 09 July 2019

Norfolk County Council's County Hall headquarters in Norwich. Pic: Neil Perry.

Norfolk County Council's County Hall headquarters in Norwich. Pic: Neil Perry.

Archant

A disabled man has been compensated with £1,000 and given an apology after a watchdog ruled Norfolk County Council was in breach of the law over cuts to his social care.

The council's decision to cut the man's personal budget from £19,147 to £9,559 a year meant he could no longer pay for a personal assistant to help him get out, so he became isolated.

The man, who had a physical disability after an accident, had received a personal budget from County Hall for several years.

But in July 2017, the council reduced that budget and changed what it could be spent on, as part of a move to get people to use other money, such as Motability grants, to meet transport costs.

The man said he could no longer afford to pay his personal assistant for fuel costs.

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After complaints to the council, which apologised but then repeated previous mistakes, the man complained to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

The ombudsman found, when payments to the man, referred to as Mr X, were cut, the council had not given an up-to-date assessment showing how it worked out his personal budget.

The ombudsman said: "It agreed Mr X's needs had not changed, however it said it would no longer pay for certain things. The council applied this list to Mr X's case strictly, with indifference to his individual needs and wishes, thus fettering its discretion.

"The council has not shown it considered Mr X's wellbeing. The council's assessment did not comply with the Care Act."

The ombudsman, upholding the complaint, said the council had not given rationale for stopping paying transport costs and that had "a significant impact on his wellbeing", as Mr X missed out on opportunities to see his family and go into the community.

A council spokesman said: "This case arose due to a mistake by a member of staff. We have apologised to Mr X and are complying fully with the ombudsman's recommendations, including the payment of £1,000 to him. We have worked with Mr X to review his care and support plan and have produced a new plan which takes account of the ombudsman's findings."

The council said it had reviewed its guidance over changes to personal budgets and said: "We are satisfied it is clear and we are monitoring implementation of the policy."


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