National Ombudsmen
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Liverpool man left street homeless by city council

A Liverpool man, who needed surgery, was left street homeless for six months during the COVID pandemic, despite asking the city council for help.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has reported how the man first became homeless in June 2020 and said he contacted Liverpool City Council for help in the same month. He said he made two further calls to the council for help, but none was recorded till September.

Despite the police raising their concerns with the council about the deterioration of the man’s mental health, the man remained street homeless till December 2020, when his sister took him to a different council area. This other council provided him with accommodation over the next four months, away from the Liverpool area where his children lived.

The council recorded it had lost contact with the man in March 2021 and closed his case, even though it had not responded to his requests for help, or to a complaint he made in January 2021 about the issues.

In late April the man had the surgery he needed for his medical condition, and the next month Liverpool council offered him a place in a hostel. The man refused the offer because he felt too vulnerable to stay in a shared hostel while he recovered from surgery.

Shortly afterwards he returned to Liverpool and began renting privately.

The man complained to the council about the way it dealt with his case, but the council did not properly consider this in line with its own complaints procedure: instead of taking 10 days to look at his complaint at stage one of its procedure, it took four months. When the man escalated the complaint to stage two the council took 12 months to deal with the complaint instead of just 28 days.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:

“Liverpool City Council did not do enough to help this man despite being contacted numerous times by his friends, the police and the man himself.

“Had it intervened when the man first approached the council for help, it’s likely he would have been offered interim accommodation, and he would not have had to live on the streets.

“Additionally, the council closed his case without ever checking up on his situation, contrary to both the council’s policy and government guidance.

“I’m pleased the council has accepted my recommendations to improve its services for people at risk of homelessness in the city.”

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 to the man and pay him a total of £2,600 for the avoidable distress and risk of harm he was put to and also the time and trouble he spent pursuing the complaint.

The Ombudsman has the power to make recommendations to improve processes for the wider public. In this case the council will review its procedures for homelessness referrals and issue reminders to relevant staff to ensure it meets its statutory duties for homelessness applicants, within the required timescales. It will also remind relevant staff about government guidance and the council’s own policy about the attempts it should make to contact a homelessness applicant before it closes their case.

Related Content : Liverpool City Council (22 003 417)

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