A West London council has been slammed again after it delayed completing a vital support plan for a boy with special educational needs for three years. 

Richmond Council has been ordered to pay £1,500 after a Local Government Ombudsman report revealed the family “lost all confidence” in the council’s ability to provide for the boy’s needs.

The unnamed woman, referred to only as Mrs X, said her son has “complex, wide ranging” needs which the council failed to meet.

She said the council failed to provide support for her son, named Y in the report, from 2012. Y has been homeschooled since 2015.

Mrs X complained the council failed to properly manage Y’s education which delayed her right to appeal his Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and discuss alternatives.

It comes after a major audit of special needs provision for children in Richmond found failings for 37 local children with EHC plans – including Y.

The auditors found the council took more than three years to complete Y’s plan and took too long to prepare reports.

They also found failings in communication with Y’s parents which denied Mrs X appeal rights until October 2019 and denied her support with elective home education.

In March 2018, the council issued a draft EHC plan for Y. The authority believed he should return to school and issued an amended draft plan in December.

Mrs X asked the council to consider giving the family a budget to fund alternative education but it did not provide more information on this.

In October 2019, the council told Mrs X it had finalised the plan it sent in May that year.

The specialist school the council recommended decided it could not meet Y’s needs in January 2020. Mrs X said the council offered no more alternatives. 

Mediation with the family began in February 2020. The council said it reviewed the plan in June 2020 but that Mrs X asked to cease maintaining it.

Mrs X, however, claimed the council discussed exiting the plan but did not review it.

The report says: “Mrs X says that Y has not received professional therapy or enough mentoring to meet his needs because the council has failed to properly assess those needs and research what provision best meets them. Mrs X says the Council has dismissed Mr and Mrs X’s views, and Y’s views on his education.” 

The ombudsman found the council at fault for delaying Y’s transition to an EHC plan by nearly three years, when it should have taken up to 18 weeks, and missing annual reviews. The report says the failures caused “avoidable confusion and distress”. 

The council has been ordered to apologise to Mrs X and Y and pay her £1,000 on Y’s behalf. The authority must also pay Mrs X £500 for the “avoidable time, inconvenience, and stress”.

A Richmond Council spokesperson said: “The council’s children’s services provider, Achieving for Children (AfC), has apologised and provided compensation to Mrs X and her son Y.

“The SEND Futures Richmond is a written statement of action approved by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission outlining how AfC is working with its partners to improve outcomes for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

"A large proportion of this work is focused on improving the system which supports the delivery of provision for children with EHC plans and monitors the timeliness and effectiveness of those plans.”