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Council criticised for failure to take into account health conditions of tenant

The Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) has criticised a London borough for failing to take into account a man’s life-threatening health conditions – despite receiving letters from his specialists – when it decided the type of homes for which he could apply.

The LGO said the man, who has epilepsy, agoraphobia and anxiety, had asked Croydon Council to consider him for accommodation with two bedrooms, so he could have carers stay with him, but the council decided he was adequately housed and told him he did not meet the level needed to be considered under ‘health related criteria’.

The Ombudsman’s investigation concluded that Croydon took too long, at 33 weeks, to carry out a review of the man’s situation.

It also found the council at fault for reaching its decision not to award the man medical priority based on advice from an independent advisor, who had not examined or even spoken to the man.

The complainant had by contrast provided supporting evidence from both his consultant neurologist, who said his condition had deteriorated and the frequency of his seizures was ‘life threatening’, and his GP, who said his epilepsy was worsened by noisy situations.

Croydon has agreed to:

  • carry out a fresh review of its decision about the man’s medical priority and issue him with a decision. “If it decides to award the man medical priority, it should backdate this to May 2017,” the LGO said.
  • pay the man £250 for the distress caused by the delay and for his time and trouble in making the complaint.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, Michael King, said: “Councils can take into account advice from independent medical advisers when reviewing people’s housing applications, but the final decision must be down to the council itself.

“It is difficult to see how Croydon Council could base its review decision on paperwork provided by someone who had neither examined or even spoken to the man, without considering evidence provided by the man’s medical specialists.

“I am pleased the council has accepted the report and its findings. It has confirmed its approach to considering medical evidence is now in line with its own policy and established case law. I hope these changes will mean housing decisions will be taken in a more transparent and accurate way in future.”

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