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LOCAL GOVERNMENT OMBUDSMAN REPORTS SINCE 8 JANUARY

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Local Government Ombudsman investigation reports issued since 8 January 1998 ...
Local Government Ombudsman investigation reports issued since 8 January 1998

Findings of maladministration and injustice

Westminster City Council (96/A/1907) and Waltham Forest LBC (96/A/3607)

Homelessness

A family arrived in Britain as refugees in 1991. In 1994 they presented themselves to Westminster City Council as homeless. They alleged that the council provided unsuitable temporary accommodation and delayed in securing permanent accommodation for them. They also alleged that the London Borough of Waltham Forest delayed in accepting their duty under Part 3 or the Housing Act 1985 to secure accommodation for the family. The Ombudsman found that the family had a statutory right to be housed as homeless, but were left lining in a single room in bed and breakfast accommodation for over two years. Both councils were at fault for the delay. Westminster referred the family to Waltham Forest (where they had lived from 1991), who refused to accept the referral. Westminster contributed to the delay by referring the case to a referee for arbitration under the local authority association agreement when it was clearly outside his jurisdiction, and by delaying in starting court action against Waltham forest when it continued to refuse the referral. Waltham Forest contributed to the delay by failing to refer the case promptly to its legal adviser, and by agreeing to refer the case to the referee. The Ombudsman did not support the allegation that the temporary accommodation was unsuitable, but commented that, while it may be suitable and tolerable for the short time, it was 'not reasonable to expect a family of four, including two young children, to live in it for over two years.'
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