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ABA in Statement but not all invoices being paid - when to do FOI request?(26 Posts)
First I must apologise for being such an infrequent poster but still coming back to ask for help from time to time. I do hope that as the years pass, things might one day settle down and then I can 'give back'.
Our DS has ABA in the Statement - it even says 30 hours per week (term time at least). Woohoo you might think. But the LA are refusing to pay all the invoices. They have plucked a figure for a 'cap' out of the sky and won't pay a penny more.
Fab that we're getting money, but it would be quite nice if they obeyed the law, so I am going through their complaints process before being able to go to the LGO (mid October).
At some stage I want to do a FOI request to get everything they have regarding DS. I am itching to fill in the form now. Would it be better to do it now so that any info I get can inform the LGO? Or should I leave it even later?
Appreciate any thoughts at all.
I would apply FOI now but not delay going to LGO. Do it alongside.
Thanks Agnes. I really wanted to hear what you thought in particular.
is their capped figure written in the statement?
if not can you threaten them with judicial review proceedings?
No the cap is not mentioned in the statement. No funding is mentioned, and rightly so!
I have JR in my sights if no joy with LGO, but I haven't mentioned JR to them. Do you think it would scare them in any way? Mention of LGO doesn't seem to have done.
I would issue them with an invoice for the shortfall, give them a window in which they have to pay and if they do not sue them through Moneyclaim Online.
Now that's a new one on me! An interesting strategy and very tempting.
I did send them the unpaid invoices in a great big bundle at the time, so they do have them at least.
Oh shite. Thanks Poltergoose, didn't know that.
Hmm I might be ok. Both FOI and DPA request pages on the LA website take me to the same 'request for information' form I have already done.
Fingers crossed. At least I know what its proper name is now.
What is MG?
We pay the tutors and then claim the money back from the LA. So this complicates things a little as provision HAS been arranged. Our consultant invoices them directly for workshops though.
As you say, I could (and have threatened in my complaint to them) stop paying when the 'cap' is reached. But they seem unfazed and head honcho replies something along the lines of how he regrets that we feel ABA should cease at that point <fuckhead>.
I might be able to keep him out of school and pretend he is receiving NOTHING while still secretly having ABA tutors at home. But then this might muddy the waters with the school and evidence of how well things are going at his annual review. We'll see when we get to that point.
What makes you think the LGO won't amount to much?
I feel like it's the long game (I mean it's until he's 25 now after all!) so want to go through every stage and try every avenue.
I am like the terminator. I will not stop.
Btw has anyone ever investigated the 'legal cover' part of house insurance for this sort of legal expense?
Long shot, but it just popped into my head the other month.
Thank you. I had forgotten the legal aid thing.
John Ford don't have a legal aid contract any more. You do need to go for judicial review as the first option - it's way quicker than the ombudsman
Quick update - and thanks all for your help.
Have spoken to a guy at Maxwell Gillott. He said we'd have to pay for a pre-action letter (circa £360 as it's £150 per hr plus VAT).
If response unfavourable, then we could look at legal aid. He said legal aid can be applied for when it can be reasonably argued that there will need to be quite a bit of investigative work, i.e. judicial review.
So I'm going to see what the LGO says next week re timescales. If it's going to drag on for ever, I'll pay for the solicitor's letter. But if I might be able to gauge the LA's reaction to the LGO within the next 6 weeks or so, I might hold off until then.
Just wanted to update this.
After going through LA complaints procedure, at the very final hurdle, somebody high up obviously read the SENCOP. They asked their own statementing dept for justification of the cap figure and for proof that the ABA could be provided for this amount.
Unsurprisingly they were unable to provide it so this top person has instructed them to pay the outstanding balance and to cover invoices for the entirety of this year too.
I did stay in touch with the LGO but they were happy the complaint was being processed so would not start our case until a decision was reached or it was clear they were not progressing it. We did the DPA subject access request, maybe that focused their mind, though it didn't throw up anything.
I'm now very glad I didn't start a JR!
Am very aware we've been lucky, but wanted to pass on that sometimes you do get somewhere.
Now onto the next battle at the annual review in March!!
Thanks for everyone's help.
Well done, good to hear you got the right outcome. Not that you should have to have gone through all of this.
The LAs keep trying to say it is for the school, and the school saying it is for the LA.
The law is clear. The buck stops with the LA. They can have arguments with the school, but that should be kept between them and the school.
There might well have been a contract somewhere that could have been enforced via small claims/county court.
Ideally for you, the ABA tutors would get paid by the LA direct, but assuming that they are two clever to be left waiting for the LA to pay, then see if the LA will sign at least a letter that sets out the position.
If it happens again a pro bono legal advice centre might help you to write straight to the LAs legal dept so that you don't have to go round the Special Needs department.
Thanks, appreciate all the advice.
Unfortunately this success will be short-lived as they seem to think the ABA is a 2 year early intensive programme which will come to an end this summer.
Fortunately they are not sending anyone of any description to observe DS so they will have precisely zero evidence to support any change. We will have a shed load. They are pretty clueless. I just hope they will realise this and we won't have to appeal a revised statement etc etc.
If you can catch them applying a policy then they will have failed in their obligation to treat each child as an individual.
Try an FOI/FOI-equivalent to asking 'what is your policy on ABA for ASD children?'
If a friend does it for you, it won't have your name plastered over it.
If you can get a document which shows they a) have a policy and b) have applied it to dc with next to no reference to his individual needs, you will have won a battle in a longer war.
Thank you - also useful. I know other families in the area and think they have applied the 2 year thing to them too. That sounds like a policy to me. Will check it out.
If you need to go for JR again, try SOS SEN. I think they have an arrangement whereby the initial paperwork is much cheaper. I'm glad this is resolved, but if you'd sent a pre-action letter early in October it could have been resolved by November.
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