WARRINGTON Borough Council was ordered to issue an apology and pay £500 in compensation following a social care-related complaint.

The statutory adults’ and children’s social work complaints and compliments annual report for 2018-19 came before the protecting the most vulnerable policy committee at the Town Hall on Tuesday.

Adult social care services received 15 complaints in 2018-19, which was 50 per cent less than in 2017-18.

In addition, 30 complaints were received about care services which were provided by private and voluntary agencies commissioned by the authority, compared with 26 complaints in 2017-18.

This gives an overall total of 45 complaints, compared to 56 in 2017-18.

In 2018-19, six complaints about services provided by the social care department were dealt with by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

Four of the complaints were not pursued or deemed to be ‘premature’, while maladministration or injustice was found in two cases.

In one of the upheld matters, the complainant stated the council failed to review her mother’s care needs which meant it did not consider a referral for continuing healthcare, failed to follow procedures when setting up a deferred payment arrangement and unreasonably pursued the family for care fees when a continuing healthcare assessment was outstanding.

The Ombudsman found the council was at fault for not carrying out annual reviews but not for the way it set up the deferred payment arrangement, or for seeking repayment of care fees from the family.

In line with recommendation from the Ombudsman, the council wrote to the complainant to offer an apology.

In the second upheld complaint, the complainant said the council failed to provide information about the potential costs of a permanent move to a residential care home and delayed completing a financial assessment.

The family were under the impression the placement was fully funded and were shocked to receive an invoice ten months later for nearly £19,000.

The Ombudsman found care fees were rightly due but said, due to the delay, the council should offer payment in instalments.

It also said that it should pay £500 to acknowledge the distress, time and trouble caused.

The council issued an apology and paid £500 in compensation.

The report also confirmed there were 133 registered compliments about services in adult social care in 2018-19.

But the committee was told more and more people are proceeding with complaints as they are more aware of their rights, although the issue is not unique to Warrington

Cllr Diana Friend, deputy chair of the committee, said: “It is a cost to the authority.

“If you are spending money on that then you can’t be spending on other things on a very restricted budget.

“It’s a vicious circle we can’t seem to break.”