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Shropshire Council rapped for not paying couple £60,000 over care failings

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Shropshire Council has been rapped for refusing to pay a vulnerable woman and her husband £60,000 in compensation for failing to provide suitable care – despite being told to hand over the cash more than 18 months ago.

Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman, said the authority had "further let down" the couple by failing to act on the recommendations of a report first published in April 2013.

She said the council had also failed to show it had taken steps to review its complaints procedure in the wake of the case.

She rejected the council's idea to pay the husband compensation based on loss of earnings and accused officials at Shirehall of choosing to "avoid responsibility for the consequences of its failings".

The couple, who have not been named, had made a complaint to the council after the woman's husband was forced to give up his job to provide round-the-clock care for her. The couple claimed the council had failed to properly assess her needs between February 2008 and April 2010.

Shropshire Council was unavailable for comment. At the time of the first report the authority claimed the recommendations were "wholly disproportionate to the needs of the case".

In her first report in April last year, Dr Martin ruled there had been maladministration by the council and recommended that £61,270 was paid to the husband.

After the council failed to act, Dr Martin issued a second report in January this year calling on the council to "remedy the injustice".

In her latest report, Dr Martin said: "When presenting her further report to its councillors the Ombudsman finds the council failed to engage with the points she put forward. While the council cited concerns about its budget its failed to recognise that by not assessing the complainant's needs property it did not allocate resources that should have been spent on her needs between February 2008 and April 2010.

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"It also failed to recognised the need to properly recompense the complaint's husband as the burden of that care fell to him.

"The Ombudsman considers her recommendations throughout this case have been proportionate, appropriate and consistent with the principles of good complaint handling. She finds the council's approach unjustified. As it has chosen to avoid responsibility for the consequence of its failings it has thereby further let down a vulnerable woman and her husband.

"When considered alongside the council's actions in this case, it casts further doubt on the council's ability and commitment to treat complainants fairly and put matters right where it has made mistakes."

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