Decision : Not upheld
Decision date : 18 Mar 2021
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Council commissioned a discretionary housing-related support service to Mr X. It says it will undertake a needs assessment if requested but Mr X did not accept support which was offered.
- Mr X complains that the Council’s commissioned provider (the housing association) did not provide him with adequate support and failed to provide him with support at all for a period of eight weeks.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. If we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- We spoke to Mr X. I considered the information provided by the Council and Mr X. Both parties had an opportunity to comment on an earlier draft statement before I reached a final decision.
What I found
Relevant background information
- Homeless Intervention and Support (formerly known as Supporting People) provides housing-related support, including support in seeking accommodation due to homelessness, support in relation to living in inadequate accommodation, support in relation to rent/ mortgage arrears and/or support in relation to a Notice to Quit or Possession Order. It is funded by the Council through a service provider such as a housing group.
- It also includes support in relation to managing finances, budgeting and paying bills, managing debt, support with welfare benefits, support in relation to contact with external services (to avoid future homelessness), support in seeking alternative accommodation due to current circumstances, support in relation to participating in training, education and work, support to engage with mental health services, support to engage with drug and/or alcohol, treatment services and support regarding the safety and security of the home.
- Homeless Intervention and Support does not include personal care services or support which are provided by the Council’s Adult care Services.
- Mr X was referred to the housing group in 2018 because of problems he was having with damp and noisy accommodation. He was also concerned about anti-social behaviour near his home. He needed help with rehousing somewhere which would accept his pet dog.
- The housing group provided support to Mr X until December 2020. It discussed with Mr X what further help it could give as it had provided support for two years without reaching a mutual agreement about alternative accommodation. Its notes of a final meeting with Mr X say “Offered to signpost so he has some options but turned it down. Will provide list of useful numbers and highlight the most relevant. Happy to continue to look for a property independently”.
- The housing group has provided details of its attempts to find alternative housing but says Mr X would find reasons not to accept the properties available. It says, “We felt we have done as much as we could possibly do. I have 6 log sheet files archived with the support he was given”.
- Mr X had previously had support from Mental Health services but no longer wished to access this.
- Mr X complained to the Council about what he saw as inadequate support from the housing group. The Council referred him to the housing group’s complaints procedure.
- The housing group says Mr X can be referred again for support in moving if he finds a property he is happy with.
- Mr X now receives support from Age UK. The Council says If Age UK feel further housing-related support is required, they can complete another referral back into our service. The Council will of course also offer to complete a Care Act Assessment of his needs should (Mr X) request this.
- The service the Council commissioned to provide housing-related support services for Mr X was a discretionary service which Mr X no longer wanted.
- The Council will carry out a needs assessment for Mr X should he request it. Mr X has that option open to him.
- I have decided to complete the investigation as there is no evidence of fault on the part of the Council.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman