Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Council told to pay £14K compensation in one year

Eight residents received compensation - ranging from £100 to £5,200 - after failures by the council

Hero for Waltham Forest Council told to pay £14K compensation in one year
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By Victoria Munro 27 July 2022

Waltham Forest Council was told to pay eight residents a total of almost £14,500 compensation over the course of a year.Waltham Forest Council was told to pay eight residents a total of almost £14,500 compensation over the course of a year.

The amounts were decided by the Local Government Ombudsman, the final stage for complaints against councils, which upheld 14 complaints about Waltham Forest in the year leading up to this March.The amounts were decided by the Local Government Ombudsman, the final stage for complaints against councils, which upheld 14 complaints about Waltham Forest in the year leading up to this March.

Eight of these upheld complaints were so serious that the council was ordered to pay compensation, in amounts ranging from just £100 to £5,200 in the most serious case.Eight of these upheld complaints were so serious that the council was ordered to pay compensation, in amounts ranging from just £100 to £5,200 in the most serious case.

The £5,200 payout was awarded in February to a woman - identified only as Miss X - who went to the council for help in August 2019 because she was being evicted while pregnant. The £5,200 payout was awarded in February to a woman - identified only as Miss X - who went to the council for help in August 2019 because she was being evicted while pregnant. 

The council failed to respond for months, even after she received threats of violence from an ex-partner and was assaulted by her housemates, forcing her to sleep on a friend’s sofa while eight months’ pregnant.The council failed to respond for months, even after she received threats of violence from an ex-partner and was assaulted by her housemates, forcing her to sleep on a friend’s sofa while eight months’ pregnant.

After her baby was born and the council still had not responded to multiple requests for help, Miss X wrote to the council in an area she had lived previously asking for help.After her baby was born and the council still had not responded to multiple requests for help, Miss X wrote to the council in an area she had lived previously asking for help.

An officer from Waltham Forest Council first contacted her by phone in May 2020 - eight months after her first request for help - but did not offer her a property until April last year.An officer from Waltham Forest Council first contacted her by phone in May 2020 - eight months after her first request for help - but did not offer her a property until April last year.

In its analysis, the ombudsman wrote: “In response to our enquiries, the council said Miss X wanted to move out of the area because she was fleeing violence. There is nothing within the council’s records nor Miss X’s evidence to show this was the case. In its analysis, the ombudsman wrote: “In response to our enquiries, the council said Miss X wanted to move out of the area because she was fleeing violence. There is nothing within the council’s records nor Miss X’s evidence to show this was the case. 

“A council record shows Miss X indicated she wanted to stay in the area because her support network for future childcare lives nearby. It is concerning that the council appears to have sought to absolve itself of responsibility on this basis.“A council record shows Miss X indicated she wanted to stay in the area because her support network for future childcare lives nearby. It is concerning that the council appears to have sought to absolve itself of responsibility on this basis.

“Miss X ended up having to give up her job because she had no way of meeting the costs of commuting and childcare while living in another council area. This was as a direct result of the council’s cumulative failure to provide help in good time.”“Miss X ended up having to give up her job because she had no way of meeting the costs of commuting and childcare while living in another council area. This was as a direct result of the council’s cumulative failure to provide help in good time.”

The second largest chunk of compensation - £4,500 - was awarded in October last year to the father of a disabled boy after the council failed to find him a “suitable school placement”.The second largest chunk of compensation - £4,500 - was awarded in October last year to the father of a disabled boy after the council failed to find him a “suitable school placement”.

The ombudsman wrote: “As a result of the council’s faults, a vulnerable child missed out both on a full-time education and also the special educational provision [he was entitled to].The ombudsman wrote: “As a result of the council’s faults, a vulnerable child missed out both on a full-time education and also the special educational provision [he was entitled to].

“He remains out of school… [and] Mr X is free to return to the Ombudsman if the council fails to find a suitable placement in the months to come.”“He remains out of school… [and] Mr X is free to return to the Ombudsman if the council fails to find a suitable placement in the months to come.”

The ombudsman awarded £3,400 in compensation to a family in September last year after the council “wrongly suspended [their] ability to bid” for a council home and left them in “unsuitable accommodation”.The ombudsman awarded £3,400 in compensation to a family in September last year after the council “wrongly suspended [their] ability to bid” for a council home and left them in “unsuitable accommodation”.

The family lived for more than a year in a flat that was only accessible by a flight of stairs, despite the fact one of their children was in a wheelchair.The family lived for more than a year in a flat that was only accessible by a flight of stairs, despite the fact one of their children was in a wheelchair.