Lewisham Council have come under fire after a mum had her care package for her two autistic sons drastically cut with no explanation.

The brothers both have autism and other special educational needs and received a care package that included seven hours a week short break payments and 24 nights a year respite accommodation.

The council reviewed both boys’ packages without giving the mother the chance to comment and decided the younger brother did not need respite accommodation.

His direct payments were reduce from seven hours per week to four, and the older boy’s days where he could stay at respite accommodation was cut in half.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, an independent organisation that looks at complaints about public services, took on her case and presented her complaints to Lewisham Council.

Even once the ombudsman got involved, the council took eight months to respond to the complaints.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “In this case the children’s situation had not changed but Lewisham council reduced the level of care it provided.

“The mother has been left upset about not knowing why their support was reduced, or having any kind of input into its review.”

The ombudsman criticised the council for failing to involve the mum in the assessment and failing to deal with her complaint for months on end.

Lewisham Council have been told to apologise to the mum and pay her £400 for the avoidable distress caused and a further £150 for the time and trouble in pursuing her complaint.

Mr King said: “The statutory children’s complaints procedure is there to protect vulnerable children and young people and has been operational for more than 10 years.

“Councils should know by now how to identify a children’s services complaint and use the correct process.

“However, regardless of which statutory procedure is used, councils should follow simple good practice: involve people in decisions which affect them, and respond promptly to concerns.”

A Lewisham Council spokesperson said: “We accept the Ombudsman's findings and we are acting on the recommendations and have apologised.

“We have already reviewed our processes and procedures that are in place to ensure this situation doesn’t happen again.”