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Brent Council pays son of a mum with dementia £400 for ‘avoidable distress’

Brent Council has paid the son of a mum with dementia £400 for the ‘avoidable distress’ caused after she was left ‘vulnerable to the possibility of financial abuse’ for longer than necessary.

Concerns had been raised after the man accused his sister of ‘isolating’ their mum and had ‘taken control’ of her finances.

An investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) found that Brent Council was at fault for delays responding to allegations of abuse made against the sister, as well as for not considering their mum’s ability to manage her own finances during a mental capacity assessment (MCA).

A feud between the two siblings, referred to in the report as Mr X and Ms A, broke out over the finances and estate belonging to their mum – referred to as Mrs H. Mr X accused his sister of isolating their mum and taking control of her finances, whilst a friend of Mrs H made allegations that Ms A, who was also her mum’s main carer at the time, had struck her on the arm.

Ms A later contacted the council claiming there was ‘the possibility of financial abuse’, after growing concerned following conversations she had with her mum. The case was closed when the council gave Ms A advice and concluded that there was ‘no requirement for any further action’. Safeguarding notes from a later assessment showed that Mrs H had asked for her daughter to return documents and not contact her again.

An earlier concern had also been made to the council by an unnamed person who had suspicions about a family member who had asked about where Mrs H stored the property deeds. The individual questioned the ‘motivation of the person making the enquiries’ but the council had again closed the case after giving them advice.

The council told Mr X that it had spoken to Mrs H and that she was ‘content with the current arrangements’. He subsequently complained to the LGO that the council had taken ‘no action’ when he had raised the safeguarding concerns he had about his mum, which he claimed had put her at risk. He also accused the local authority of wrongly assessing his mum’s capacity to make decisions about her financial affairs.

The ombudsman found that the council didn’t consider whether Mrs H had the ability to manage her own finances and property affairs during any of the assessments following the safeguarding concerns raised. The council accepted that, when it was aware of concerns around Mrs H’s capacity to make financial decisions, it ‘should have completed an MCA at that time’. It also accepted responsibility for the delays responding to the allegations of abuse.

To ‘remedy the injustice’ to Mrs H and Mr X, the ombudsman concluded that the council should apologise to them in writing for not assessing the mum’s vulnerability to financial abuse and pay Mr X £400 for the ‘avoidable distress and uncertainty’.

A spokesperson for Brent Council said: “The council sincerely apologises to Mrs H and her son Mr X for our shortcomings in this case. We have implemented the recommendations made by the ombudsman, including a retrospective payment of £400 to Mr X for the distress and uncertainty it caused.”