Complaint over elderly woman facing homelessness among those ombudsman upheld in 2020/21

Havering Town Hall

Havering Town Hall - Credit: Ken Mears

Havering Council failed a man and his elderly mother who were about to be made homeless, a watchdog ruled. 

The case was among 12 complaints upheld against Havering by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman in 2020/21. 

The watchdog found the council caused “avoidable frustration and distress” to the man, whose mother had complex mental health needs. 

“I do have concerns about the level of support provided to [him] during this period,” the ombudsman wrote.

The man wrote to the housing team three times, but they “failed to respond”, the report continued. 

When the elderly mother was then hospitalised, the council “contributed significantly” to her delayed discharge by taking months to find appropriate accommodation for her. 

The council was ordered to apologise, pay £500 compensation and demonstrate that it had proper processes in place to handle future cases. 

Another upheld complaint, reported by the Recorder earlier this year, concerned a child protection case. 

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Both Havering Council and Kent County Council were found to have failed to quickly tell a mother that her older son claimed in a psychology session to have sexually abused his younger brother. 

This meant the boys’ parents continued to allow them to spend time together. 

Kent was meant to pass the disclosure to Havering, but mistakenly sent it to a different council. 

After Havering was eventually informed, it should have passed the information on to the boys’ parents within one working day but failed to do so, the ombudsman found.

Havering paid £500 compensation to the mother, “to recognise the potential risk to [her younger son], as well as her own distress.” 

Overall, Havering performed well in the last year compared to other, similar councils. 

The ombudsman upheld 67 per cent of complaints it investigated, compared to an average of 72 per cent. 

In 25 per cent of cases, Havering had already provided a “satisfactory remedy” before the ombudsman got involved. The average in similar councils was just 12 per cent. 

A council spokesperson said: “The council always tries to deliver the best service and support to our residents. 

“In these cases, we acknowledge that we fell short. We apologise to the individuals affected and accept the ombudsman’s findings.” 

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