Council Delays Forced Woman To Sleep at Work

Compensation paid following failure to make housing her a priority

Wandsworth Town Hall
Wandsworth Town Hall. Picture: Eugene Regis

Wandsworth Council has had to pay £2,000 to a homeless woman for delays which forced her to sleep at work.

Miss X said she had nowhere else to go so secretly slept at her workplace, an Ombudsman report revealed.

She complained Wandsworth Council made errors and caused delays in providing her with suitable temporary accommodation, causing her “distress and anxiety”.

Miss X presented as homeless in February 2019 but the council said she was not in priority need and put her in a refuge as she had nowhere to stay. By May, Miss X said she felt under threat at the refuge.

When Miss X was evicted from the refuge in August 2019 council officers again said she was not in priority need so did not offer her new accommodation and would only offer advice on housing options.

Miss X claims as she had nowhere else to go, she secretly slept at her work place.

Miss X turned to a homelessness charity, which contacted Wandsworth Council on her behalf in October 2019.

The charity said Miss X had given enough evidence to show she was eligible, homeless and in priority need.

Miss X stayed in a B&B from November 2019 but said it was unsuitable and left, before sofa surfing at friends’ homes.

The council eventually offered her alternative temporary accommodation in February 2020.

Miss X claimed she understood she could move into the home within two weeks, however it wasn’t ready until late April 2020 – two months later. Miss X is still in this accommodation and says it is suitable.

The Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman said, “The delays and failings in the way the council dealt with her homelessness application amount to fault. This fault has caused Miss X an injustice.

“The council has agreed to pay Miss X £2,000 to recognise the difficulties and distress and anxiety she experienced as a result of the delays and failings in the way the council dealt with her homelessness application.”

A Wandsworth Council spokesperson said: “We have accepted there were delays in providing permanent accommodation in this case but this applicant was offered suitable temporary accommodation up to that point, which on occasion she rejected.

“However in line with the Ombudsman’s findings we have agreed to pay her a sum of compensation.”

James Mayer - Local Democracy Reporter

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January 21, 2022