Kent council fined after mother and son lived in tent during pandemic

Kent council has been fined after making a mother and son homeless.

Kent council fined after mother and son lived in tent during pandemic. The council removed them from temporary housing during the pandemic. They were left to sleep on friends sofa’s and also in a tent for two months.

A local Government ombudsman said the council ignored various chances to re-home the pair even though they knew they were sleeping rough. The ombudsman said “They slept in a tent for almost two months.

This caused them avoidable hardship and distress.” The teenager had been placed on a child protection register in November 2019. Although social workers admitted he needed stable housing they closed the case in May, forcing him and his mother to live on the streets.

The ombudsman stated by doing so the council were in breach of pandemic guidance.

A report by the ombudsman said “It should have been clear to the children’s services department’s funding panel that the family would suffer hardship following the withdrawal of funding as they had no other housing arrangements in place. While we are sympathetic to the pressures on councils, we expect them to consider national guidance issued during the pandemic and the failure to do so was fault.”

After intervention from the ombudsman the family were re-housed in September. Local government and social care ombudsman Michael King said “Our investigations into issues occurring during the pandemic have to balance the difficult circumstances and the speed at which laws were changing, against what should have reasonably happened.

Despite these challenging circumstances, the council in this case failed in its duties to a vulnerable teenager who was sleeping rough, and it missed numerous opportunities to ensure he was safe.”

The boy and his mother recieved £1500 each compensation from the council with the mother recieving an extra £200 to “reflect her avoidable frustration when failing to get a service from the council after reporting her homelessness”.

A spokesman for Medway council said “We fully accept the recommendations made by the local government ombudsman and we have apologised to the individuals involved, as well as made recompense.

We are committed to learning from specific cases such as this to improve the service we provide to those at risk of becoming homeless and in need of additional support.”

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