Hackney Council ordered to pay out £27,000 for special needs care plan delays

Hackney Council has been told to repay two families more than £27,000 because of huge delays in completing care plans for their children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Councils should normally take no longer than 20 weeks to complete an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) for children with SEN, stating the provisions they need.

But in one case a boy with autism only received his plan after 69 weeks, and another boy with Down's Syndrome waited 48 weeks.

His parents had to remortgage their home and take on credit card debts to cover the cost for one-to-one support for the boy who has severe language and social communication difficulties.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman ordered the council to repay his family nearly £21,000 to make up for the money they shelled out before the council conceded it was suitable. His father reckons he spent 800 hours dealing with the council and he was given £500 for his time and £1,000 for the distress caused.

Regarding the second case, the council has been told to apologise to his family and pay £3,000 for the boy's educational benefit, on top of £1,000 for the "significant distress" caused, and £150 for their time and trouble spent pursuing the complaint.

Ombudsman Michael King said: "Some families have to go well beyond the call of duty to confirm the type of support their children should receive and I'm sorry this has happened in both these cases and in others we are investigating. We issued a special report about the problems faced by parents battling the SEN system in 2017. At the time, we said when councils get things wrong it places a disproportionate burden on families already struggling".

Most Read

He has urged the council to consider other families' complaints where there have been delays, and recommended more staff training take place.

Cllr Chris Kennedy said some of the findings raised "significant issues" the council will address.

He added: "These were complex cases, some things did not happen in the time frame they should and we apologise to the families for these issues. Our staff work very hard to ensure the right support is in place, and the wellbeing of young people is at the heart of everything our SEND team does."