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Man left street homeless after council failed to recognise domestic abuse

Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea did not recognise the abuse a homeless man said he suffered because it did not consider the alleged perpetrator a ‘relative’.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has asked the council to apologise to the man for not recognising he was personally connected to his alleged abuser as well as to train its staff to avoid the issue happening again.

The man complained to the Ombudsman after the council left him sleeping rough when he fled the home he shared with his sibling and their spouse.

The council wrongly did not offer the man interim accommodation as he said he was staying with a friend. It failed to check how long he could stay there and whether it was settled accommodation. It took the council 11 weeks to tell the man it had accepted it had a duty to help prevent his homelessness with a Personalised Housing Plan (PHP).

Ms Amerdeep Somal said:

The council’s delays in confirming what duty it owed the man, coupled with not recognising the alleged abuse he suffered, can only have caused him uncertainty and distress at a time of crisis

“During our investigation the council told us it has a significant backlog of cases requiring a Personalised Housing Plan. This is not good enough. These are important documents, required by law, which explain what the council will do, and what people themselves can do, to help prevent or relieve their homelessness – delays in providing them creates a real injustice to people at a vulnerable time in their lives.

“I welcome the action the council has told us it is taking to improve how it deals with people fleeing domestic abuse and the moves it is making to address the backlog in issuing PHPs. I have asked the council to report on this backlog to a relevant committee every quarter to ensure this is not left to drift.”

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman remedies injustice and shares learning from investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services. In this case the council has agreed to apologise to the man and pay him a symbolic payment of £300 to recognise the distress and uncertainty caused. It will also review the homelessness duty owed to the man, notify him of the decision and his rights to seek a review.

The Ombudsman has the power to make recommendations to improve processes for the wider public. In this case the council has agreed to send written apologies to applicants affected by the delays in issuing PHPs and draw up an action plan for reducing the number of people waiting.

It will also ensure officers are aware of the legal definition of ‘personally connected’ and ‘relatives’.

Article date: 14 March 2024

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