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Sheffield City Council (21 009 804)

Category : Housing > Allocations

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 03 Apr 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We stopped investigating Miss X’s complaint about how the Council considered whether to award priority on the housing register. This is because changes in Miss X’s circumstances since she complained mean there is no worthwhile outcome achievable by further investigation.

The complaint

  1. Miss X complains that the Council did not give her application for housing the right priority. Miss X says she needs to move to the Council’s area to access support for her and her children.
  2. Miss X says she is isolated and struggling to care for her children alone.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We can decide whether to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. We may decide not to continue with an investigation if we decide further investigation would not lead to a different outcome. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Miss X provided.
  2. I made written enquiries of the Council.
  3. Miss X and the Council had an opportunity to comment on my draft decision. I considered any comments received before making a final decision.

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What I found

Housing allocations

  1. Every local housing authority must publish an allocations scheme that sets out how it prioritises applicants, and its procedures for allocating housing.  All allocations must be made in strict accordance with the published scheme. (Housing Act 1996, section 166A(1) & (14))
  2. The Council puts applicants in ‘bands’ from Band A to Band E.
  3. The Council’s scheme says that any applicant can join the housing register. The Council awards Band E to applicants who want to join the register but do not have a connection to the area. Applicants with a connection to the area who want to join the register are awarded Band D.
  4. Bands A, B, and C are the priority bands in the scheme. The Council awards priority to applicants who need to move for a reason, such as:
    • homeless people;
    • people in insanitary, overcrowded or unsatisfactory housing;
    • people who need to move on medical or welfare grounds;
    • people who need to move to avoid hardship to themselves or others

What happened

  1. Miss X has a disability and several children. She gets a lot of support with daily responsibilities and childcare from her sister.
  2. In early 2021, Miss X’s sister moved to the Council’s area. Miss X applied to the Council’s housing register.
  3. The Council put Miss X in Band E. Miss X asked the Council to award a priority band. She said she needed to move to continue to receive support from her sister.
  4. In April, the Council decided Miss X did not meet the criteria for a priority band. It didn’t think Miss X needed to move urgently. The Council considered she had enough other support in her area.
  5. Miss X asked the Council to review this decision. In July, the Council told Miss X that it had not changed its mind.
  6. Miss X complained to the Ombudsman in October.
  7. In November, Miss X had to leave her home because of domestic abuse. She came to live with her sister, who later asked her to leave.
  8. The Council put Miss X in temporary accommodation and awarded Band B on the housing register.

My decision

  1. I have decided to stop investigating this complaint.
  2. This is because the changes in Miss X’s circumstances since November mean that there is no point in investigating the Council’s earlier decisions.
  3. In reaching this decision, I considered whether Miss X would have been able to make a planned move to the Council’s area before November had the Council awarded a priority band in April.
  4. The Council’s most recent lets of the size Miss X needs were to applicants who were awarded priority in early 2020. Therefore, it is very unlikely Miss X would have been offered a property before November.
  5. Miss X is now in Band B for accommodation in the Council’s area. Any further investigation would not achieve any other outcome for Miss X.

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Final decision

  1. I stopped investigating this complaint. There is no worthwhile outcome achievable by further investigation.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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