London Borough of Wandsworth (22 015 117)

Category : Education > Special educational needs

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 14 Dec 2023


Key to names used

  • Miss X - The complainant
  • Y - Her disabled son
  • Council A  - Another council – property 2 was in Council A’s area
  • Council B - Another council - property 3 was in Council B’s area


Miss X complained the Council’s housing team: delayed in dealing with her homelessness application and wrongly treated her as a domestic abuse victim; provided unsuitable emergency accommodation outside its area between September and December 2021; provided unsuitable alternative temporary accommodation in Council B’s area from December 2021 onwards; and following a complaint, identified an alternative temporary property for the family in November 2022 but had not given them a date to move there. Miss X complained the Council’s education and children’s services: delayed in transferring her son, Y’s, Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan to Council B after the family moved to temporary accommodation there; and failed to provide assistance with home to school transport for Y.


Fault found causing injustice.


The Council must consider the report and confirm within three months the action it has taken or proposes to take. The Council should consider the report at its full Council, Cabinet or other appropriately delegated committee of elected members and we will require evidence of this. (Local Government Act 1974, section 31(2), as amended)

The Council should take the following action within three months of the date of this report:

  • apologise to Miss X for the injustice caused by the failings identified;

  • pay Miss X £10,000 for the injustice caused to her and her family by the failings identified. This is calculated on the basis of £500 a month for 20 months from September 2021 to May 2023;

    This is higher than the £150 to £350 suggested in our guidance on remedies for unsuitable accommodation, to reflect the significant difficulties caused by the two hour journey to/from school, including the disruption to Y’s schooling by being late and tired, and the cumulative frustration and distress caused due to the long time period in which the family had to endure this journey.

  • pay Miss X a further £3,800 to reflect the additional costs of £200 a month she said she incurred in taking the children to school whilst in unsuitable housing for 19 months;

  • back-date Miss X’s priority date on the Council’s housing register to 23 November 2021, the point at which the Council should have accepted an application;

  • share this report, and a summary of what went wrong, and changes made to ensure the faults do not recur, with all staff in its homelessness and housing allocations teams to identify learning from this case;

  • remind relevant staff of the need to properly consider the applicant’s housing needs when carrying out a homelessness assessment, including any medical needs the household has and whether any children have special educational needs and an EHC plan. This should form the basis for the Council’s assessment of the suitability of any accommodation it offers homeless applicants;

  • review its processes, particularly around the carrying out of homelessness assessments and preparing personalised housing plans (PHPs) to ensure that, where appropriate, homeless applicants are given information about who to contact for advice and assistance in relation to home to school transport assistance, changing a child’s school, and about contacting the special educational needs and disability (SEND) team if a child’s EHC plan may need to be transferred to another council;

  • remind relevant staff of the need to notify the receiving authority where it places a household outside its area, and work with the receiving authority in advance of the placement to ensure the educational needs of any children in the household are met;

  • remind relevant staff of the need to ensure that PHPs are kept under review, and that a review is carried out whenever the duty changes as a minimum;

  • remind relevant staff of the need to consider whether interim and temporary accommodation is suitable, record how they considered this, and provide brief reasons in letters offering accommodation, with review rights if applicable;

  • review its processes to ensure that where it takes more than a month between it offering alternative interim or temporary accommodation and it becoming available for occupation, it considers alternative properties for the applicant. It should also ensure it updates the applicant with the reason(s) for the delay and the likely timescale for the accommodation being available. It should provide updates every month after that until the accommodation is available for occupation; and

  • remind its school transport appeal managers and panel that they should check the latest position regarding EHC plans, and remind them of the maximum journey times set out in the statutory guidance.

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