Watchdog upholds 12 cases against Hull City Council
TWELVE allegations of injustice caused by Hull City Council were upheld last year by a town hall watchdog.
Local Government Ombudsman Anne Seex received 147 complaints and inquiries from members of the public about the council during 2011-12, a 10 per cent reduction on the previous year.
Service areas that received the most complaints were education and children's services, housing and highways.
However, decisions were only made in 72 cases. Some of the decisions also involved cases from the previous year.
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Overall, 12 cases of injustice were proved by the Ombudsman's team.
In the two most serious ones, Mrs Seex took the rare step of issuing public reports.
In one case, she criticised the council over its failures to act on complaints that a 14-year-old boy and his 11-year-old sister were in danger from their mother's mentally ill partner, who had a history of violence.
She said the council's failings "could have had very serious consequences".
The boy's aunt, who raised concerns over the safety of the boy and his sister, took both of them in because of her doubts over the council's ability to deal with the situation.
On one occasion, the boy was even threatened with a knife but social workers still failed to intervene.
In her report at the time, Mrs Seex revealed the council had agreed to pay the aunt £7,665, a quarter of the sum she would have received as a carer's allowance for the time the children lived with her. The authority also launched a review of its childcare procedures.
The second case followed a complaint that the council had wrongly been charging a care home in the city for the disposal of non-clinical waste.
The council had changed its charging policy in 2008 following guidance received from the Department of Environment but refused to refund charges it had levied beforehand.
Mrs Seex concluded the council should refund all its pre-2008 charges it had made to the complainant while reviewing possible backdated refunds to other care homes.
The authority refunded the care home in question.
Other cases of injustice that were proved included a failure to provide adequate support for an uncle looking after his 16-year-old nephew after the teenager left local authority care and two school appeals hearings in which parents claimed the authority had not given proper consideration to their circumstances.
Injustice was also found in the case of the parents of a disabled person receiving regular respite care.
They had bought him a £20 box of chocolates to take with him on one respite stay, only to discover the sweets had been taken off him by care staff at the home and given to other young people in the unit.
The parents received a subsequent apology and an offer to reimburse their £20 purchase.
A report covering the ombudsman's letter to the council and its responses in each injustice case will be discussed by councillors next week.