Lancashire County Council denied a man with Downs Syndrome a Blue Badge without ever assessing him in person, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.
The man’s father applied to renew the blue badge in September 2017, but was wrongly told by the council that walking difficulties arising from cognitive impairments could not be taken into account when assessing someone for a badge.
The father was told to complete an assessment form which would be examined by Able 2 Occupational Therapy Services, employed by the council to conduct assessments. Their first application was turned down.
When the father complained, instead of assessing the son in a face-to-face meeting, the company conducted a second paper assessment, and again denied the family the blue badge.
The family complained to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, which found the council at fault for not offering the face-to-face assessment. The Ombudsman also criticised the council for saying the son would not be eligible because he had cognitive rather than physical difficulties, and because it did not properly consider the variable nature of the son’s condition.
The council has since conducted a face-to-face assessment and concluded the son is eligible for a Blue Badge.
Michael King, from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “It is important councils offer someone a face-to-face assessment if they question the outcome of a desk-based assessment, but this did not happen in this case.
“This is particularly important for people like the man’s son whose condition can vary and present differently from one day to the next.
“I’m pleased the council has now confirmed it is working to improve the service it offers to people with variable conditions and will now offer them face-to-face assessments.”
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s role is to remedy injustice and share learning from investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services.
In this case the council has agreed to apologise to the father for failing to offer his son a face-to-face assessment and pay him £250 for the time and trouble of bringing the complaint to the Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman has the power to make recommendations to improve a council’s processes for the wider public.
In this case the council has agreed to review the way it deals with applications for blue badges to ensure it does not discount people with variable conditions, and it will take account of people with hidden or non-physical conditions which affect walking ability.
Disclaimer: This is a press release from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.