Wigan Council did all they could to aid woman, says watchdog

Wigan Town Hall
Wigan Town Hall

A woman who complained that Wigan Council left her without care services after making her support “unaffordable”, has lost her case with the local government watchdog.

The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) has decided not to uphold the grievance filed by “Ms X”, claiming that the town hall left her without “the assistance she needs to carry out basic daily activities” when it asked for a contribution of £24.03 per week.

Prior to this; Ms X, who suffers from various health conditions, was using direct payments from the council to pay a personal assistant to help her with difficult or impossible tasks. The LGO heard how, in late 2017, the council carried out a financial assessment which led to her being asked for contributions of £24.03 a week.

“Ms X says the council caused her to lose her care,” says the report. “The social care records do not support this.”

During an investigation, the LGO found that Ms X cancelled her direct payments as she could not afford to build up debt. In an email from Ms X to the council, she claimed that the council had made the support “unaffordable”.

Following this, the council tried three times to contact Ms X for evidence of her financial situation.

The reports adds: “The records show the council was concerned that Ms X was without service and that it reduced the charge to £9.08 per week, telling her of this on February 16, 2018. The records also show the council told Ms X it could arrange financial support is she found the amount difficult.”

Wigan Council finally removed the facility for direct payments on February 25, after Ms X insisted that she did not want them. Evidence seen by the LGO showed that she said she would “refuse support if she had to pay any amount as a matter of principle”.

The LGO said that social workers showed concern for Ms X and were reluctant to withdraw payments even when she asked for it as she had no care service in place. Following the review, the ombudsman said that it did not find the council at any fault regarding Ms X’s complaints.