Father invested son’s benefits payments in “property”

A disabled man’s personal budget payments were suspended after his father used £60,000 of the money to “invest in property” for his future.

The Local Government Ombudsman has cleared Lincolnshire County Council over its decision to suspend direct payments to the man, known as Mr X, and take control of his funding.

Reports before the ombudsman described how Mr X, who lived at home with his parents, was given a personal budget by the authority to pay for services in his care plan.

However, a review in February 2019 revealed his father had “used some of the money to invest in property for Mr X for the future.”

He had also not made a number of payments to a day service Mr X attended, or contributions into his payment account.

In response, the authority suspended the payments “due to the misuse and inappropriate use of public funds” and took on the responsibility of commissioning services.

A manager told the parents “the money could not be used towards the purchase of a house for Mr X”.

Mr X’s father complained to the council, his local MP and the Ombudsman, saying he had signed the agreement “under threat of Mr X being taken from the family home” – something the council said it would only do “in very rare circumstances”.

It said it wanted Mr X to remain with his family.

Finding no fault from the council, the LGO said: “[The father] does not dispute that he used some of the direct payments money for purposes other than funding the services specified in the care and support plan to meet Mr X’s needs.”

It said the agreement and policies were clear.

“The council was not at fault in requesting the repayment of monies which Mr B used for purposes other than [that] which they were intended.”