Council denies its obligations to homeless domestic violence victim
Oadby and Wigston Borough Council has refused to accept it has done anything wrong when it failed to take a homelessness application from a victim of domestic violence, despite an Ombudsman investigation into its actions.
The woman had been living in another council area when she approached the council for help to house herself and her children. Despite the woman having lived and worked in Oadby and Wigston’s area, and telling officers she was at risk of domestic violence if she stayed in the other area, the council did not take a homelessness application from her.
Instead Oadby and Wigston placed the responsibility on the other authority to assess and accommodate the family. The woman and her children had to stay in unsuitable bed and breakfast accommodation in the other authority’s area until the council decided it would take their application and house them after all.
The Ombudsman’s investigation found fault with the way Oadby and Wigston Borough Council dealt with the family, and its reasoning for not taking a homelessness application was flawed. The council insisted the blame lay with the other council and has not yet accepted it had any responsibility for the injustice caused to the family.
The family has since moved to privately rented accommodation.
Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, yesterday said:
“It is important for councils to be aware of their homelessness obligations and properly assess when they have a duty towards people. When vulnerable families are involved, it is particularly vital. It is not enough to pass the responsibility onto other councils simply because the person has applied to two separate councils for help.
“I have made some very simple, practical recommendations to help improve the council’s services for other homeless people and I would urge the council to review my report and accept the improvements I have asked it to make.”
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s role is to remedy injustice and share learning from investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services. In this case the council should apologise to the mum and pay her £500 to recognise the injustice caused.
The Ombudsman has the power to make recommendations to improve processes for the wider public. The Ombudsman has recommended the council provide training to its housing staff to ensure they can identify when a homelessness application should be taken.
The council has not yet accepted the Ombudsman’s recommendations.
Latest News from
Draft Public Service Ombudsman Bill laid in Parliament05/12/2016 12:37:21
A new complaints body will provide the public with greater confidence that their voices have been heard.
Carolyn Hirst, Anu Singh and Linda Farrant join the Board as non-executive directors18/02/2020 14:15:00
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman are delighted to welcome Carolyn Hirst, Anu Singh and Linda Farrant to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's Board as non-executive directors.
Ombudsman reminds councils about care home top-up fees13/02/2020 09:15:00
Councils across England are being reminded by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman of their duties under the Care Act to administer ‘top-up fees’ for people contributing towards relatives’ care.
Luton to review some of its special educational needs services following Ombudsman’s investigation07/02/2020 14:15:00
Luton Borough Council has agreed to create a detailed action plan to improve some of its services for children with special educational needs after the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman uncovered significant concerns during a recent investigation.
Derby girl misses out on education because of council delays06/02/2020 12:15:00
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has criticised Derby City Council after a girl with autism missed out on around 18 months of special education support because of council delays.
Daventry District Council fails to tackle industrial noise complaint properly30/01/2020 09:15:00
Some homeowners on a new housing development in the Daventry area have been plagued by excessive noise from a nearby industrial estate because the district council has not done enough to investigate their concerns, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman reports.
Council makes serious unsubstantiated allegations about asylum seeker during Ombudsman investigation23/01/2020 12:15:00
Sandwell council refused to let a vulnerable mother have her representative present at an important meeting – and made serious and unsubstantiated allegations about both of them during an investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.
Nottinghamshire man’s care package reduced because of financial pressures, Ombudsman finds23/01/2020 09:15:00
A Nottinghamshire man with autism was left relying on his parents to part-fund his care when the county council cut his package without identifying a suitable alternative, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.
Ombudsman reminds councils of their foster carer school transport duties17/01/2020 13:20:00
Councils across England are being reminded about the financial support they must provide to foster carers’ school transport expenses following an investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman into Wolverhampton council.