Council ordered to apologise over unsuitable home for man's disability

East Suffolk Council is going to vote on not increasing council tax next year.

East Suffolk Council have been ordered to pay £200 following a Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman investigation. - Credit: East Suffolk Council

A wheelchair-bound man has been awarded £200 from his local council after being placed in an "unsuitable" council house when a spell in hospital left him homeless.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) ordered East Suffolk Council to pay the man, referred to as Mr R, for causing "avoidable distress", and write a letter of apology, although they accepted the council had limited options at the time of the move.

The man had been hospitalised following a serious accident which affected his mobility, meaning he was unable to return to his furnished, privately-rented flat as it was not wheelchair accessible.

After being discharged in February 2018, he was referred to the council for temporary accommodation, where a housing needs officer "repeatedly suggested" a health or social care colleague from the hospital visit the flat before the move.

The LGSCO report states the hospital advised its staff could not visit until after Mr R moved in and, although the flat had some adaptations, it was not specifically designed for wheelchair users.

Mr R's complaints include problems getting his wheelchair over the raised threshold and through doors, kitchen surfaces at the wrong height, and the fact the flat was unfurnished.

The LGSCO found the council was at fault for not correctly assessing the suitability of the flat, as well as for a lack of records 

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Mr R was moved to a new property in November 2018, although a further complaint about this property was not upheld by the LGSCO after he agreed it was suitable at the time of the move. 

A spokesperson for East Suffolk Council said: "An offer of permanent accommodation from the council was accepted by Mr R and was assessed as suitable by an occupational therapist.

"The LGSCO agreed with the council that, in this regard, we were not at fault.

"The council does, however, accept the findings and all learning points which will help to ensure high standards are maintained as part of our statutory duty to all clients.

"We have accepted all recommendations made by the LGSCO and have taken all the necessary steps to address the concerns raised.

"We are confident these measures will prevent a recurrence of any issues in future and they will continue to be monitored."