William Eichler 13 May 2022

Council apologises after family forced to live on building site

Council apologises after family forced to live on building site image
Image: 1000 Words / Shutterstock.com.

Croydon Council has apologised after a family was left to live on a building site for nearly two years after the local authority failed to pay an agreed grant on time.

The family, which already included three children, took on the care of another child as part of a Special Guardianship agreement with London Borough of Croydon.

The arrangement included the council paying £40,000 for an extension to the family’s two-bedroom home to ensure there was enough space to care for four children.

The family secured a bank loan for their part and builders started on the extension. However, according to the findings of an investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, because the council did not pay the grant on time, the builders stopped work.

The house and garden was left in disarray for 21 months while the family chased the council for the balance, which it finally paid in November 2021.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, commented: ‘The council’s delays have caused this family considerable stress and disruption: they’ve not had proper access to the front or back of their house, walls were left with large holes open to the outside and part of the extension that had been built was flooded when it rained. Indeed, some of the work that was completed before the hiatus needs remedial work before the building can be finished.

‘I am pleased the council has accepted my recommendations to put things right for the family.’

A council spokesperson said: ‘We are really sorry for the impact our delayed support had on this family. All funds have since been paid in full, along with compensation agreed in court. We have apologised to them and re-established a positive relationship with the family via our social care services.

‘We have learnt important lessons from this case and improved our internal procedures and checks for support plans. The approval and management of these plans now has greater senior oversight, including regularly monitoring progress on their delivery.’

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