Nearly £30,000 compensation paid by West Sussex County Council

A GRAND total of 120 inquiries and complaints about West Sussex County Council were made to the local government ombudsman in 2010-11 – and the authority paid out £29,140 in compensation.

Out of the 120, 79 were passed on to the ombudsman’s investigation team. In her annual report, ombudsman Anne Seex said the rest were sent back to the council to be dealt with, or dealt with by providing advice.

Education and children’s services (34) together with adult care services (20) accounted for the majority of the 79 complaints. The remaining 25 covered a broad range of services, most notably transport and highways.

One complaint involved the council’s self-directed system of care and support in relation to a woman who had care needs arising from her learning disability.

Her investigator found the delay by the council in completing the process meant the complainant’s daughter missed out on payments she was entitled to receive, and the additional care and support she could have purchased with that sum.

To remedy the injustice, the council agreed to pay compensation of £17,500, along with £250 in recognition of the complainant’s time and trouble.

In another case, the council took action to resolve a complaint about the lack of education for two sisters who both had statements of special educational needs.

Her investigator found delay on the council’s part in either progressing matters or arranging home tuition while the girls were out of school.

The council agreed to pay £5,225 compensation for these faults, made up of £4,505 in respect of 16 weeks’ educational provision for the girls, and an additional £750 for the distress and time and trouble caused to the complainant and his family.

A county council spokesman said a rise in complaints had been expected.

“It is almost entirely due to the government making changes to the statutory process for adults’ social care from September 2009,” he said.