Summary: Miss X complained about how the Council handled her homelessness application when she became threatened with homelessness in February 2019, and homeless in March 2019. She complained about Council officers’ approach towards her and a lack of action to help her find somewhere to live. Miss X stayed in unsuitable, unfurnished interim accommodation while pregnant. This has affected her physical and mental health.
The Ombudsman upheld the complaint and found fault causing injustice.
We recommended the Council urgently considered options such as a temporary discretionary housing payment to make private rented accommodation affordable for Miss X until her baby is born. The Council agreed to this recommendation and took this step before we issued our final report. The Council has cited severe staff shortages as responsible for fault. It has agreed to consider service resources, and changes needed to enable its officers to work in line with the law. It will report to us within three months of the date of this report explaining its findings and plan.
The Council has agreed to send a written apology to Miss X and pay her £1,000. This is to recognise the time she spent living in unsuitable accommodation, the significant stress, uncertainty and anxiety caused to her and the extra time and trouble she went to. The injustice to Miss X is particularly significant, given the impact on her physical and mental health. It will pay this within three months of the date of this report. The Council should not prescribe how Miss X uses this, for example expecting her to use it in place of financial help it may otherwise give her in future.
Ombudsman satisfied with Council's response: 19 February 2020.