Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman Investigation into Bedford Borough - Models used  Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

Council introduces changes after investigation

Bedford Borough Council has introduced new ways of working following the outcome of a Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman investigation.

The investigation concerned a complaint around the amount payable to Special Guardians, as a result of a Special Guardianship Order made in 2014. In particular that the Council failed to make clear that the allowances the complainants received could be reduced as a result of moving from being foster carers to becoming Special Guardians.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said:

“Special guardians do a vital job in providing stability and security for some of our most vulnerable children who cannot live with their birth parents. While taking this on willingly, in return they deserve to have all the facts to understand the implications for their lives.

“In this case, Bedford Borough Council simply didn’t follow best practice in advising, involving and consulting with the couple. However, I welcome its acceptance of our findings and its offer to restore the family’s support.”

Following the complaint and investigation the Council has introduced changes to its services to ensure that:

  • All Special Guardianship Support Plans make clear the Council’s intentions regarding any conditions to be placed on financial support
  • The Council discusses Support Plans with all prospective Special Guardians in a timely way, giving them 28 days to comment
  • The Council fully explains the financial implications to all foster carers who wish to become Special Guardians

These actions have been welcomed by the Ombudsman.

The Council has also agreed to resolve the situation so that the complainants do not lose out as a result of its earlier action.

A Bedford Borough Council Spokesperson said:

“We would like to apologise to the family affected by this for any difficulties and anxiety our action may have caused.

“We seek to provide high quality services and resolve all complaints that we receive. This is a complex case but we have put in place new ways of working to prevent this happening again. This has been welcomed by the Ombudsman.”

A report on the complaint and investigation will be discussed at the Council’s Executive Committee meeting on the 28th November.