Haringey family re-housed thanks to Ombudsman investigation

A disabled Haringey woman and her family have been re-housed after a Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) investigation ensured that a council put right errors it had made processing her housing application.

The woman lived in a third floor flat, and complained that London Borough of Haringey did not properly assess her priority for housing based on her medical need when she approached officers for more suitable accommodation.

The woman had suffered a number of strokes which left her with mobility problems; she could not use the stairs and there was no lift in the block of flats.

At one point thieves stole her wheelchair because it was too heavy for her husband to carry up the stairs. She was left housebound, feeling isolated and unable to wash properly without her husband’s help.

She approached the council in February 2014 and was given a low priority, so she sent officers further medical evidence in support of her application. This further evidence was finally considered by a medical advisor in December 2015 after the council had mislaid some of it. The council did not act on his recommendations until March 2016 when the Ombudsman became involved. The council then placed the woman in its top banding, backdated to July 2015.

In response to LGO enquiries, the council said the average time to be rehoused for people in the top two priority bands was more than seven years. The LGO believes this information to be misleading and wrong – the average wait time in the council’s area for a two bedroom property for people in the top priority banding was 15 months.

The LGO investigation found the woman was left housebound and at risk for six months longer than she should have been. She made 69 bids for properties between September 2015 and March 2016; the LGO investigation found the woman potentially missed out on 57 properties to people with either a lower priority banding, or a later effective date than her.

Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman, said:

“As highlighted in our Focus Report earlier this year, we continue to see a rise in complaints about the way councils have dealt with housing applications.

“This case is a further example of the need for councils to carefully consider all relevant information so that housing needs can be properly assessed.

"I am pleased to hear that the family now have a new home and the council has agreed to my recommendations to carry out any further adaptations they might need.”

The council has agreed to apologise to the woman and pay her £2,100 to acknowledge the difficulties and injustice caused to her by the faults.

It will also ensure there is no unnecessary delay carrying out further adaptations recommended by an occupational therapist to her new property.

The LGO published its Focus Report entitled Full House: Councils' Role in Allocating Social Housing in January 2016.

Article date: 18 August 2016