|Ealing Council Left Disabled Woman At Risk|
Local Government Ombudsman finds maladministration
Ealing Council has been criticised by the Local Government Ombudsman for leaving a disabled women housebound and at risk.
The council tenant - a wheelchair user with three young children - couldn't access the controls to the security door in her housing block as they were too high for her to reach.
She complained that the Council failed to respond adequately to her problems entering and leaving the block.
The Council was advised by a hospital as early as November 2008 of the difficulties the woman faced. It received numerous subsequent reminders, including an alert from the fire brigade that she was at risk in the event of fire.
In her report, Ombudsman Dr Jane Martin, concludes that the Council’s delay in moving her to suitable alternative accommodation caused considerable injustice, as she lived in very unsatisfactory conditions for far longer than she should.
The Council assessed her needs. It awarded her the second-highest level of priority for a transfer on medical grounds. It provided home care support and assistance with making bids for alternative properties.
However, the Ombudsman says: “I find maladministration by the Council because it: did not carry out any works to the door entry system despite telling a councillor that these had been done did not formally consider a suggestion that it modify the front door to the block, and did not refer the case to its Social Welfare Panel until September 2011 (after my office had requested it do so) even though it had identified this as a possibility two-and-a-half years earlier.”
The Council has now awarded the complainant the highest level of priority, backdated to May 2010. The Ombudsman recommends that the Council further backdates this award to May 2009 when the possibility of a referral to the Panel was first raised, and pays the complainant £2,000 to reflect the delay in her moving to suitable alternative accommodation.
A spokesperson from Ealing Council said: '' Clearly mistakes were made by Ealing Homes, the council's former housing management organisation, for which we are very sorry.
''Now that we have taken housing management back under the council’s direct control, services are working much closer together to resolve issues like this faster, and to offer the high level services our residents expect.
''However, we will take a detailed look at this particular case to see what lessons can be learnt. We have now moved our resident and her family to suitable accommodation.
''We will make a compensation payment to reflect the delay, in addition to offering our full and undivided apology.''
February 28, 2012