Thursday 22 February 2024
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Ombudsman called in over ‘cramped housing’ complaint

A disabled mum-of-two complained to the Local Government Ombudsman after she claimed she was being forced to sleep on a sofa in her “cramped” three-bedroomed house.

The mum, who has not been named, complained to the Ombudsman about the way Gedling Borough Council handled her bid for what she believed would be more suitable accommodation.

She said her three-bedroomed property was far too small and was having an “adverse impact” on her own health and that of her two children, who suffer from autism and ADHD.

But the Ombudsman found there was “no fault” in the way the council considered and ranked the woman’s bids for properties – although it should have better communicated its decision.

The local authority has now apologised over the way it sent out its review decision letter, which rejected the woman’s bid to move.

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It has also pledged to take steps to improve the quality of its letters.

The Ombudsman – who investigates maladministration and service failures – said the mum complained that the council did not properly assess her housing needs.

In September 2020, the council received a letter from the woman’s support worker requesting a review of her priority band.

The support worker described the cramped living conditions and that her client was sleeping on a sofa in the living room which aggravated her medical condition.

The third bedroom was also described as “very small… there was barely room for a bed.”

There was also a letter from the woman’s GP who said her mobility difficulties were affected by the lack of space in the house.

She was under the care of a psychiatrist and had stopped attending counselling sessions due to the stress caused by her living conditions.

The mum also aired concerns about the officer in charge of her housing application as she had previously complained about their conduct.

A council investigation did not uphold her complaint so there was no reason why the officer should not have been involved in future decisions, the Ombudsman stated.

But the Ombudsman said there was fault in the content of the review decision letter as it “did not adequately explain the evidence the officer had considered and the reasons for her decision.”

The Ombudsman said the council has already apologised for the error and issued advice to relevant officers to improve the quality of review decision letters.

The report states: “I have seen no evidence that council officers treated her unfairly or discriminated against her in the period covered by this investigation.

“Understandably she is upset that she has not been rehoused yet. But I have seen no evidence that this results from unfair treatment or discrimination in the way officers assessed her priority and bid.”

The Ombudsman said the apology over the decision letter which caused the mum “confusion and uncertainly” provided “a satisfactory remedy.”

The Ombudsman report will be discussed at the council’s cabinet meeting on Thursday, August 5.

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