Norfolk council rapped over wheelchair-bound man’s housing complaint

NNDC's offices in Holt Road, Cromer. Picture: COLIN FINCH

NNDC's offices in Holt Road, Cromer. Picture: COLIN FINCH - Credit: Colin Finch

A Norfolk council has apologised to a wheelchair-bound man and paid him £1,700 after being rapped over a housing complaint.

The single man in his 50s, who is referred to in last year's Local Government Ombudsman report as Mr X, has multiple severe disabilities and uses an electric powered wheelchair inside and outdoors.

He had complained that North Norfolk District Council left him in temporary accommodation that was unsuitable for his needs as a permanent wheelchair user. He could not use the shower or cooking facilities, open or close the doors and windows, or use his powered wheelchair outside the building.

He also complained that a manager placed a bid for a housing association property which she knew was not suitable for his needs. Mr X's bids for other properties were also not properly considered and he was bypassed for offers of suitable wheelchair standard properties.

The Ombudsman said: 'The council did not carry out a timely assessment of the suitability of Mr X's bed and breakfast accommodation after it took over the main housing duty.

'The council placed bids for properties on Mr X's behalf without having properly assessed his housing needs as a wheelchair user.

'Mr X was bypassed and not invited to view some mobility standard bungalows.'

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The council has since reviewed its procedures for dealing with local connection referrals from other housing authorities, and ruled that officers will seek agreement from the applicant before they make bids for properties.

The council has paid the man £1700 for the distress he suffered while he was accommodated in unsuitable bed and breakfast accommodation between February and June 2016, and for the missed opportunity to view the more suitable properties.

A NNDC spokesman said: 'We have responded to all the points made in the Local Government Ombudsman's report.

'We have apologised in writing to this gentleman and have continued to work with him. We are sorry for the issues that were identified in this case.

'We have also paid the money as outlined in the agreed action part of the ombudsman's report, and this issue was resolved several months ago.'