The Ombudsman, Nick Bennett, has called on Bridgend County Borough Council to provide his office with its proposals and action plan for reviewing other looked after children’s cases
amid concerns that the failings identified could be systemic and affect other looked after children in the Council’s care.
Mr N, (anonymised), who was two when he and his brother were placed with foster carers,
complained to the Ombudsman after his placement broke down in 2014.
He said that:
* The Council had not managed his savings properly and in accordance with its policy.
* Some of his savings were used, without consultation with him, to pay for trips for which he should have received a special allowance.
* The savings he received in January 2015 were substantially less than he believed they should have been.
An investigation found that the Council’s monitoring was “both intermittent and inadequate” and amounted to maladministration. It also failed to keep adequate records or retain his saving books at the end of his fostering placement, and this meant it was unclear why Mr N’s savings were as low as they were.
The Council acknowledged that when Mr N made his original complaint to it, its response might have appeared “dismissive or unsympathetic” and apologised saying this had not been
The Ombudsman said the case raised important issues over looked after children and their savings at a local, regional and national level and he had shared the report with the Welsh
Government. He emphasised that he had made no criticism of the Foster Carers in his report, and that his investigation was solely about the Council’s actions.
The Ombudsman made a series of recommendations, including that the Council should make a payment of £3,310 to Mr N. To date, the Council has not done so.
Nick Bennett, Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, said:
“I hope that the issues my investigation has raised will lead to positive changes and the development of further national policy on long term savings for looked after children, reflecting the need for councils to secure the outcomes every good parent would want for their own children.
“The complainant deserves to have this payment made to him and I am most disappointed that to date, the Council has refused to do so.
“If it maintains this position, I will be forced to issue a further special report, something which I have only done once in my tenure as Ombudsman.”