A council must pay a family more than £1,500 in compensation after an ombudsman found 'significant delays' in issuing an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) for a schoolboy. 

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman carried out the review after a complaint made by 'Mrs X' in which she raised concerns over Suffolk County Council's consideration of her request for an EHCP and said the council had failed to provide her son with a full-time education while he was out of school.

Following an investigation, which ended in a decision on January 26, the ombudsman found there were faults in Suffolk County Council's actions, including delays to the EHCP process.

The ombudsman report states that Mrs X requested a needs assessment for her son, 'Y', on January 10, 2023, and the council should have confirmed if it intended to agree to an EHCP by February 21, but this instead took until March 14.

The investigator said the SEN Code requires councils to issue EHCPs within 20 weeks of a request being made and, in this case, the deadline was May 30, 2023. 

However, the council told the ombudsman it had issued a draft EHCP to Mrs X on October 30, 2023, and Mrs X said the final plan was issued on December 6.

The ombudsman also found other educational provision offered by the council was "not sufficient to constitute the full-time education that Y was entitled to receive".

"The council could provide no evidence to explain how it determined this level of education was sufficient for Y. The lack of provision represents fault by the council," they said.

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The ombudsman said the council should write a written apology to Mrs X and Y for the delay in issuing his EHCP and for not providing full-time education. 

They also ruled the council should pay Mrs X £300 to recognise the distress caused by the delays, and £1,350 for Y to recognise the loss of education. 

The council was also asked to remind staff of protocols and provide the ombudsman with evidence that these actions had been taken.

Suffolk County Council was approached for comment.