How can I challenge a local authority care assessment?
If you or your loved one have had a care and support assessment, financial assessment or carer’s assessment and you are unhappy with the contents, the way it was conducted or the outcome, you have a right to appeal or complain.
Possible reasons for dissatisfaction with assessment
There could be a number of reasons why you are unhappy with the assessment, including the following:
- You have not seen the assessment or had a chance to comment on it;
- The assessment does not detail all relevant needs. There should be a record of all needs, not just those classed as “eligible” for support by the local authority;
- You are unhappy with the financial assessment and cannot afford to make the contribution requested;
- The local authority has not offered realistic options for meeting non-eligible needs. Local authority is required to signpost people to other local support services that could meet non-eligible needs;
- You do not agree with the way needs have been described or judgements made about which needs are “eligible” for support;
- The assessment fails to offer clear outcomes, or the outcomes are inappropriate;
- The service suggested (or amount of service offered) by the care and support plan will not meet needs or will not deliver the intended outcome;
- There have been unacceptable delays in carrying out the assessment or making decisions.
- There has been poor service or rude staff.
Making a complaint to the local authority by writing a letter
If you want to challenge a local authority decision, you should first complain to the relevant local authority itself or ask for a review.
All councils are legally required to have a formal complaints procedure in place. The information should be available on the local authority website or given to you or your loved one at the time of assessment.
Take the matter to a Local Government Ombudsman
If you are not satisfied with the local authority’s response and you believe the fault is down to a service or administrative error, you have the option to take the matter to an Ombudsman.
Once the Ombudsman has decided whether it can legally deal with your complaint, it will then have up to 12 months to provide you with a resolution. They can recommend what the council should do to make up for their decision.
If your complaint relates to social care, you might also want to let your local Health Watch know about your issues. Health Watch are the independent national champion for people who use health and social care services. They make sure that those running services, and the government, put people at the heart of care.
Seek advice from a solicitor
A solicitor can tell you if judicial review may be possible. Judicial review is the way people can challenge the lawfulness of a decision made by a public body such as the council. A judge will look at how the decision was made. There are tight timescales for making a claim. Usually a claim form must be filed as soon as possible and within 3 months after the grounds upon which the claim is based first arose, but there are shorter deadlines in certain situations.
Contact your MP to alert them to the problem you are having
Your local MP has an interest in how the local authority enacts UK government laws such as the Care Act and can intervene on your behalf if he agrees that it is an important issue.