Staffordshire council fined for stress of woman and autistic son

A council has been fined £5,250 for causing “a significant amount of avoidable stress and frustration” to an autistic teenager and his mother.

The Local Government Ombudsman said Staffordshire County Council should use the fine to compensate Jacquie Golightly.

She said: “I didn’t feel the council were listening – my son was suffering and we as a family were suffering.”

The council, which apologised, was found guilty of maladministration.

Mike Lawrence, of Staffordshire County Council, said: “We would like to apologise unreservedly to the family concerned in this case and to reassure them that we are taking the necessary action to try to ensure that this will not happen to anyone else in the future.

“Our learning disability team is working with the family to ensure that his individual social care needs are met both now and in the future.”

‘Extremely worried’

Mrs Golightly complained that the council failed to carry out an adequate and timely assessment of her son’s care and educational needs after he moved school when he was 16-years-old.

She said: “He just couldn’t cope with it – his autism is so severe that he just didn’t understand was expected of him.

“I was extremely worried that we would be left with no school and no respite [care] with a really angry, anxious young man.”

Both of his parents were signed off work suffering from stress and depression.

The report found that delays in assessing the teenager’s needs caused his mother “significant and unnecessary frustration and distress”.

The ombudsman also recommended that the council install a swing seat in the garden of the teenagers home to “remedy the injustice”.

The council has agreed to implement the ombudsman’s recommendations.