Birmingham wheelchair user left in unsuitable home for eight years by council
A Birmingham man has been left in unsuitable temporary accommodation for eight years despite the city council knowing it did not meet his needs as a wheelchair user, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.
Birmingham City Council has now agreed to pay the man nearly £30,000 for the time he and his family has spent in the accommodation.
For the past eight years, the man has been unable to access the property without the help of others because it has a step up. He said he has fallen while trying to get inside the property, and his wife has had to drag him inside, including when she was pregnant.
He has also not been able to wash without help because the home only has a bath and no shower.
The Ombudsman’s investigation found the council at fault for failing to review the suitability of the man’s accommodation despite his complaints. The Ombudsman also found delays in the council completing suitability reviews and other statutory homelessness reviews.
Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:
“For too long this man has had to live with the indignity of being unable to access his home and bathe without help.
“Despite the council knowing the property is unsuitable, it has failed to offer him a proper alternative since 2014.
“I appreciate the great pressures the council is under to provide housing for homeless people, but it should not have taken so long in this man’s case.
“I am pleased the council has accepted the findings of my report and acted swiftly to provide the remedy I have recommended which recognises the length of time the family has suffered.”
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman remedies injustice and shares learning from investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services. In this case the council has agreed to apologise and pay the man a total of £29,700, based on £300 for each of the 99 months he has already spent in unsuitable accommodation. It will also pay the man £300 a month until it either makes an offer of suitable alternative accommodation or otherwise ends its homelessness duty to him.
The Ombudsman has the power to make recommendations to improve processes for the wider public. In this case the council has agreed to remind staff about their duties to complete reviews for people who are in temporary accommodation within the statutory timescales.
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