A council who failed to organise transport meaning a young woman with complex health needs missed almost a full term of college has been ordered to pay out £720 and apologise to her mother.

Trafford Council failed to follow arrangements set out in  Ms Z’s Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP), which are commonly put into place for students with special educational needs and or disabilities (SEND).

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman criticised the council for causing delays from September 5 to October 7, 2022.

This followed complaints from the girl’s mother, Mrs Y, who said the failures affected Ms Z’s wellbeing and increased the family’s caring responsibilities while she was at home instead of college.

“Mrs Y caused upset and had to spend time contacting the council about Ms Z’s transport arrangements,” the report said.

“She had to instruct solicitors to resolve the transport issues.”

Under the Education Act 1996 councils have duties to provide travel assistance and educational placements for certain groups of young people.

Ms Z’s EHCP included provision for a trained escort funded by the Integrated Care Board (ICB, an NHS organisation) to accompany her to and from college on transport provided by the council, said to be in line with the council’s "all-age travel assistance policy".

As well as an EHCP, Ms Z also had a care plan from the ICB. In July of 2022 the council named College A as Ms Z’s new placement from September.

It issued the final EHCP on September 2 and it was confirmed the ICB would fund a trained escort to accompany Ms Z to and from college from Monday to Friday, initially for afternoons only.

College A’s term started on September 5, but because of a delay by the council in notifying the college, Ms Z’s place wasn’t available to her until September 19.

The Ombudsman’s report said the ICB was responsible for securing suitable escorts, with the specified medication training to accompany Ms Z on the vehicle arranged by the council’s transport team.

However, difficulties over securing care support from several agencies resulted in delays.

And by November 2022, Ms Z’s transport was still not in place and further arrangements over transport became confused.

In December 2022, Mrs Y’s solicitors wrote to the council about the transport issues, saying the authority had failed to provide Ms Z’s transport and deliver the provision set out in her EHCP.

Mrs Y then accepted the council’s proposed arrangements for Ms Z’s transport and a taxi with care support was put in place from December 8, but lodged a complaint about the delay in making those arrangements.

The Ombudsman said that the council had accepted that Ms Z’s start date at college was delayed because of its failure to notify the college of her placement in time.

“This was fault,” the report said.

“The council has also accepted that it was its responsibility to arrange suitable transport for Ms Z to and from college, in according with the provision of her EHCP,” it went on.

“Because of this fault Ms Z missed five weeks of education and SEN provision from September 5 to October 7.”

To remedy the injustice the council agreed to apologise to Mrs Y and pay Mrs Y £250 to reflect the distress and frustrations its failures caused her and to pay an additional £470, as a remedy for "Ms Z’s benefit", to recognise the injustice caused by the education she missed.

The council has also agreed to review its procedures over the way its transport team and the ICB work together when arranging transport in cases where both a vehicle and care support are required.

The council has been contacted for comment.