Monday, 25 May 2015

Homelessness applicants denied right to appeal

The local government watchdog has criticised a council for denying people the chance to appeal against decisions not to house them.

The Local Government Ombudsman said Bristol Council did not issue a written decision to a woman who applied to the council as homeless. It did offer her advice on renting privately, but failed in its legal duty to issue a written decision letter.

The ombudsman said although the issue had come to light as the result of a single complaint, it believes it is part of a wider problem in the city, and is unlikely to be an isolated case. The lack of a written letter means applicants cannot appeal against a decision.

Local Government Ombudsman Dr Jane Martin said: ‘By failing to meet its legal duty to provide homeless people with a written decision, not only is the council leaving people in limbo wondering whether or not they will be housed, but it also denied them the opportunity to appeal that decision.

‘I recognise that Bristol City Council has chosen to focus its resources to prioritise higher risk homelessness applications, however, it is necessary to issue a report because more people are being affected by the council’s inaction.’

The council has agreed to apologise to the woman and issue her with a decision letter. It is also paying her £200 compensation, and carrying out a review of its homelessness procedures.

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