Croydon Council has apologised after a mother who was recovering from cancer was left in a bedsit with her four children throughout the pandemic despite the council acknowledging she was overcrowded.
An investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has concluded that the council did not do enough to review how suitable the mother’s accommodation was or offer additional support.
The family was offered alternative accommodation during the Ombudsman’s investigation.
Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: ‘In her complaint to the council, the mother shared the troubles her family faced being cooped up in a single room, especially during the COVID-19 lockdowns, with the lack of space for the children to play and do their homework. The mother was also recovering from cancer which left her weak and caused her difficulty accessing her flat.
‘Despite this the council did not review the suitability of the family’s temporary accommodation, or even ask for further information about the impact the living conditions were having both on the mother and her children.
‘I am pleased the council took action during my investigation to offer the family a suitable property, and hope the steps it has agreed to take will ensure other homeless families are not left in the same situation.’
The council has agreed to apologise to the mother and arrange suitable alternative temporary accommodation for her. It will also pay her £200 to acknowledge the trouble she was put through making the complaint.
The council will also pay her £300 a month for the period between January 2021 and when it makes her an offer of suitable alternative accommodation.
A council spokesperson said: ‘We sincerely apologise to this family, who were left in an unsuitable and overcrowded home for far too long. The family have now been rehoused and we are in contact to assess any further support they might require from our children’s services team.
‘We fully accept the LGO’s recommendations for the council, including agreed compensation. We are now looking to strengthen our processes for reviewing housing suitability and sharing information across different teams as a priority.’