Council apologises over failure to support family in overcrowded accommodation

Amber Middleton
Monday, June 27, 2022

A local authority is reviewing its treatment of homeless families living in overcrowded accommodation following an investigation by the local government and social care ombudsman (LGO).

Ombudsman Michael King says he is 'pleased the council took action'. Picture: LGO
Ombudsman Michael King says he is 'pleased the council took action'. Picture: LGO

The investigation, by LGO Michael King, found that a mother and her four children were left living in a bedsit throughout the pandemic, despite it being offered as temporary housing by Croydon Council.

The family was only offered suitable accommodation after the mother complained to the ombudsman, King’s report notes.

The council was aware of this and acknowledged the family was overcrowded but did not offer support, it adds. 

In her complaint to the council, the mother noted her struggles with the whole family living in one room during three national Covid-19 lockdowns, including a lack of space for the children to play and do homework.

She also mentioned she was undergoing cancer treatment which left her weak and often unable to leave her home.

King said: “Despite this, the council did not review the suitability of the family’s temporary accommodation, or even ask for further information about the impact the living conditions were having both on the mother and her children.”

During King’s investigation, the family was offered alternative temporary accommodation by the council.

Croydon also agreed to pay the family £300 per month for the period between January 2021 until further suitable alternative accommodation is made available.

It will also pay the mother a further £200 for the time spent on the ombudsman complaint. 

Council leaders have agreed to apologise to the mother and family and review its policies and procedures for suitability of temporary accommodation following this incident.

King said: “I am pleased the council took action during my investigation to offer the family a suitable property and hope the steps it has agreed to take will ensure other homeless families are not left in the same situation.”

A Croydon Council spokesperson said: “We sincerely apologise to this family, who were left in an unsuitable and overcrowded home for far too long. The family have now been rehoused and we are in contact to assess any further support they might require.

“We fully accept the LGO’s recommendations for the council, including agreed compensation. We are now looking to strengthen our processes for reviewing housing suitability and sharing information across different teams as a priority.”

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