Domestic violence victim and her autistic child forced to live in B&B for two years

A woman fleeing domestic violence with her autistic child was left living in an unsuitable bed and breakfast for almost two years after a London council delayed her housing application.

Lambeth Council has been ordered to pay the woman, whose details have not been released, £3,000 for the “distress” it caused to her while she was staying in the temporary home.

For most of the two years she was not even allocated a case worker to help her with the trauma of fleeing domestic violence, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found.

It blasted the council for letting the woman “fall through the cracks”.

Lambeth Town Hall: Council officers were balsted for allowing the woman to “fall through the cracks” (Picture: Google Street View)

The Ombudsman found the council took almost a year to decide on her case after she first approached officers in 2015.

Even after accepting the woman needed the council’s help, she was still living in the unsuitable home in Croydon for months afterwards.

Councils are obliged to make decisions with homelessness applications within 33 days of accepting the case.

Lambeth Council has since apologised to the woman and promised “the same mistakes won’t happen again”.

Michael King, of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “Lambeth took nearly a year to decide on this woman’s case. During this time she was unable to request a review of her accommodation as the council had not formally accepted responsibility for her.

“During this time she was unable to request a review of her accommodation as the council had not formally accepted responsibility for her.

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“For much of that time the woman was without even an allocated case worker. While I appreciate the caseloads councils – particularly in London – are under, people should not be left to fall through the cracks as this woman has done.”

After the woman first approached Lambeth for help, she was placed in the bed and breakfast in Croydon.

Health visitors, another London borough and the woman’s solicitors all told the council the building was unsuitable for her autistic child, but she was forced to stay there for 10 months.

It was not until April 2016 that Lambeth accepted its duty to move the woman, but by September that year she was still living in the accommodation.

The woman finally signed a tenancy agreement for appropriate accommodation in March 2017.

A Lambeth council spokesman said: “Since this particular case, various measures have been put in place to ensure that the same mistakes are not made again and that everyone who comes to the council in similar circumstances is assisted quickly and efficiently.”

The Ombudsman also recommended the council pay the woman an additional £1,700 as a contribution towards the storage costs she incurred.

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