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London Borough of Bromley (20 012 225)

Category : Housing > Homelessness

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 16 Mar 2022

Overview:

Key to names used

  • Mr B The complainant

Summary

Mr B complained that the London Borough of Bromley failed to deal properly with his approaches to them for help when he was threatened with homelessness in 2019. He complained that initially the Council failed to accept a duty when his landlord wrote to him to ask him to leave. He also complained that later, although it did agree to provide some help, the Council still failed to effectively and promptly secure accommodation for him and his family until he complained, which was over a year after he first approached it for help.

Finding

Fault found causing injustice and recommendations made.

Recommendations

The Council must consider the report and confirm 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. We have agreed an extension for this to happen, to take account of the upcoming local elections. (Local Government Act 1974, section 31(2), as amended)

To recognise the injustice caused to Mr B and his family, within a month of this report, the Council will:

  • send Mr B a written apology which acknowledges the fault and the impact this has had on him and his family; and

  • pay £6,000 for the family remaining in overcrowded accommodation from the time of Mr B’s first approach in August 2019 until November 2020. This is calculated at a rate of £400 a month. This is slightly higher than the usual rate we would recommend and reflects the degree of overcrowding and the extended period this continued.

    To address wider systemic issues, within three months of this report, the Council provide us with:

  • evidence on how it will ensure that all relevant staff are aware of their responsibilities in relation to assessing homeless applicants, when a prevention duty is owed, when a relief duty is owed, when interim accommodation should be considered and when any prevention duty, relief duty and PHP should be reviewed. The Council should consider how this can best be achieved and tell us how and when it will do this;

  • more detail on comments made to us that it has a new housing management system and that this incorporates computer generated monitoring and reminders to assist staff with managing homelessness cases. The Council has said that this together with adjusted methods of working will ensure closer monitoring of future cases. It should also provide us with evidence of how this has been implemented;

    more information on its comments that its new Head of Housing Options and Support has reviewed the casework management system with a view to implementing any necessary changes. In addition, the Council said it was establishing Key Performance Indicators across the service and that the management team was also creating a performance reporting and quality assurance framework aimed at improving the overall quality of casework and customer care delivery. The Council should provide us with further details on this and how the changes it has made will ensure that the faults identified in this case will not recur in future; and

  • evidence of how the Council will ensure that housing staff consider relevant rights of applicants under the Human rights Act 1998 as part of their wider consideration of the Council’s duties under housing legislation.

The Council has accepted our recommendations.

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