Brighton and Hove City Council has been ordered by the ombudsman to apologise to a disabled homeless man and pay him £900 for delays and errors in how it handled his case.
The man, referred to in the local ombudsman’s report as Mr B, was rehomed in Newhaven after being evicted from his privately-let Brighton flat in 2017.
Mr B complained that the council had mishandled his case by failing to take prompt action, and that the temporary home he was given was inadequate as it was too far away from his carers in Brighton, the stairs were difficult, and there was no chair or adapted shower.
He also complained that he was often not able to park within 50m of the flat, the furthest distance he is able to walk.
While the ombudsman did not find fault with any of the decisions the council eventually made, it did find that officers had failed to help him avoid being evicted in the first place, and had taken too long deciding that it did not have any duty to provide him with housing.
The report said: “Mr B complained that, when he asked about the delay, an officer said, ‘So we are delayed, so what?’ The council apologised and said it is acting to prevent such comments being made again. The council was clearly at fault for this flippant, disrespectful remark. I consider its apology and undertaking to prevent a recurrence were a suitable remedy so I need not take more action on this point.”
Most of the £900 was compensation for the delays and the stress they caused, but £50 was awarded to cover the costs of him having to travel to Brighton to wash.
The council was also instructed to review what happened in this case and make any changes necessary to minimise the chances of those problems recurring, particularly with regards prompt homeless prevention and advice and dealing with complaints about inadequate temporary accommodation.
A council spokeswoman said this had been done to the ombudsman’s satisfaction, adding: “We have experienced a higher turnover of staff over the last 18 months than we have had in previous years and have lost some experienced staff.
“We have replaced them now and are also recruiting other positions as with a large department, there is always a turnover and movement.”
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