Disabled boy 'twice failed by council', Ombudsman finds

Somerset County Council HQ
Image caption The county council failed provide speech and language therapy to the boy, the report said

A council's "ineptitude" led to vulnerable and disabled children in Somerset missing out on vital support, according to an ombudsman's report.

The failings came to light in a report about a severely disabled boy who went without speech and language therapy for two years.

The boy's family had to complain twice to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) before they were given help.

The council has apologised to the family and is now supporting the boy.

'Make friends'

The boy, who has not been named in the report, has severe complex speech, language, communication, sensory and physical needs.

He also had a Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEN) statement in place, which means he is legally entitled to specialised support.

The family's first complaint to the LGO in 2015 was upheld. But after a tribunal ordered more support for the boy, the family was forced to complain a second time as support was still not in place.

The Ombudsman's report said the council's children's services had "showed a level of ineptitude in funding, commissioning and delivering a statutory service".

This led to "vulnerable and disabled children missing out on the support they require", it added.

Dr Jane Martin, from the LGO, said: "At the heart of this case is a vulnerable young disabled boy who has been left without the support he needs to help him make friends and get on with his lessons."

'Two more families'

Somerset County Council has paid the family £300 for having to complain twice and £1,000 for the boy's educational benefit.

A council spokesman said: "Our sincerest apologies have been extended to the family and we have continued to work alongside them to find the appropriate therapy for their son.

"We're happy that this has now been resolved and that additional therapy sessions took place throughout the summer."

It also said lessons had been learned in commissioning therapies for the 3,000 children it looks after.

During the investigation, the LGO also found two more Somerset families who were affected by delays.

The LGO is now appealing for others who have experienced issues to come forward.

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