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Ombudsman issues guide on temporary accommodation for homeless people

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) has issued a guide for those who work with some of the most vulnerable groups in society.

Aimed at officers who work in local authorities’ housing and homelessness functions, the guide offers good practice advice on dealing with people who are owed the main housing duty and are occupying temporary accommodation which the council accepts is unsuitable.

Based on the LGSCO’s extensive experience in investigating homelessness complaints, the guide discusses the relevant law and guidance around temporary accommodation, the Ombudsman’s role and approach to complaints, and how the organisation remedies injustice when it finds an authority at fault.

Cases covered in the guide include those where the suitability of the temporary accommodation has not been kept under review, despite the family’s change in circumstances.

In another case, a survivor of domestic abuse was placed in temporary accommodation with disrepair issues. The council decided it was ‘fit for purpose’ but did not tell the survivor of her statutory right to have the council’s decision reviewed.

And in another case, the family of a child at risk of sexual exploitation was placed in accommodation but the council did not consider what security measures were needed at that accommodation to ensure the family were protected.

The guide also clearly sets out a number of key steps local housing authorities need to take to ensure their service is compliant with both the law and guidance.

Paul Najsarek, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, yesterday said:

“Together with a special report we published in March about the Homelessness Reduction Act, this guide provides key essential learning for local authorities about their role and duties towards homeless people in temporary accommodation.

“This is an important area of our work given the challenges families suffering homelessness face and the increasing use of this type of accommodation by authorities with the difficult job of finding suitable housing for rent.

“I would urge housing professionals at all levels to read these free reports and guides to ensure the services they provide to people who are either homeless, or at risk of homelessness, meet their duties under the law and guidance.”

The document, which is freely available from the Ombudsman’s website, is one of a range of good practice guides covering subjects as diverse as planning, adult care services and benefits and taxation.

For more information, visit



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