Havering Council: ‘We’ll offer more help to family we failed’

Havering Council leader Cllr Michael White pledged that the council will “go much further” than it was told to in the recent local government ombudsman report, which said it had caused substantial injustice to the family of a disabled woman.

At Full Council meeting on Wednesday of last week (February 1), the Conservative referred to the case of a woman called Miss Ford and her daughter Anna (not their real names) who complained to the watchdog in 2010.

They had been on the housing waiting list. One of Miss Ford’s daughters - 24-year-old Anna, has multiple sclerosis – and needs a downstairs bedroom.

The family, who needed a three bed property, were denied a one that became available which also had a downstairs parlour on the basis that it would then count as a four bed property.

Cllr White pledged that the council would review all of its policies, procedures and outcomes.

He said: “I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to Miss Ford and to Anna for the anxiety that they have been through.”

The council will comply with all the ombudsman’s recommendations, including to pay compensation to the family and review the wording of its lettings policy.

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He added: “Comprehensive education and guidance will be provided and we will improve the experience and treatment for disabled and vulnerable applicants and tenants.

“Staff will undergo refresher training so that they are familiar with their obligations under the Equalities legislation.

“Our housing budget will fund a specialist occupational therapist dedicated to supporting disabled residents to get housing they need as quickly as possible.”

In response to a question by Cllr Ray Morgon (Residents Association, Hacton) about when council officers became away of the potential legal breaches involved in the case Cllr White said that the issue of Anna’s disability only came to light towards the end of the local government ombudsman’s investigations.

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