Disrepairs after family fled for safety

Islington Council apologises over delays in complaint handling

By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter

Islington Town Hall
Photo: Julia Gregory / LDRS

A family who had to flee their home for their safety on police advice were put into a temporary home in disrepair.

The new home they moved in after their child suffered a serious assault needed work to fix the repairs. The family had to contact the council to remedy the situation.

They were also unhappy about the time Islington Council took to deal with their complaints about rehousing.

The mother, who is known as Miss X to protect her identity, took her complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.

They had to move away after her child, Y, was injured in a serious assault and the police advised “that the family should be moved out of the area for their safety” and Y should not return home when they left hospital.

Repairs were sorted out within a month, but the family had to move as the landlord wanted to sell, and so they spent time in several temporary homes.

Staff from Islington Council talked to other councils and housing associations about other homes.

Eventually the family moved into a permanent residence.

Miss X’s main complaint concerned the time it took to be offered permanent accommodation. The ombudsman found no fault and said it was reasonable for the council to help the family through its high-risk moves policy so they could keep their secure tenure.

She also complained about delays in the council’s complaint handling.

It made her a £150 payment in compensation, with a further £150 payment for the inconvenience caused by the disrepair in the temporary accommodation. The ombudsman said the remedy was reasonable.

An Islington Council spokesperson said: “We want everyone in Islington to have a place to call home which is secure, decent and genuinely affordable.

“Clearly, there were failings in the way that this case was handled, and we apologise to the resident involved.

“We fully accept the Ombudsman’s conclusions and will learn from this case. We’re currently in the process of reviewing our complaints system, to see how we can better handle complaints in future.”

The spokesperson said the council is also a member of the London-wide Setting the Standard scheme to ensure the temporary accommodation that councils use is up to the mark.

The Ombudsman launched an investigation last month into the way the council handles complaints. The local authority said it has improved its system with more staff drafted in.

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