Kensington & ChelseaNews

Inquiry finds council was lax in dealings with victim of domestic abuse

By Ben Lynch, Local Democracy Reporter

A domestic abuse victim has been paid almost £4,000 by Kensington and Chelsea council after it failed to secure the woman and her children suitable accommodation for more than two years.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found the woman, referred to as Ms X, and her family ‘have been caused significant distress’ due to having lived ‘with the risk of domestic abuse’ over a 26-month period.

The Ombudsman’s report records how in 2021, the council carried out a ‘suitability assessment’ of Ms X’s home following an incident of domestic abuse.

The council offered Ms X a place in a bed and breakfast as an emergency provision, but Ms X chose to remain in the property, telling the council she wished to stay in the area to be closer to her support network.

Further offers of new temporary accommodation were offered in 2022, with a place in Ms X’s preferred area identified in early 2023. This was, however, subsequently deemed ‘unsuitable’ for Ms X by the council.

The Ombudsman notes the council’s records show Ms X had bid on six properties between January 2022 and August 2023, although on each occasion these were let to applicants with more ‘points’, meaning they were deemed to be a higher priority.

While acknowledging the council failed to find Ms X and her family a suitable property “due to the acute shortage of available accommodation in London”, the watchdog said the local authority still had a duty to provide such a home.

They added there was no evidence that the council took further action to find Ms X a property since January last year, nor that it “properly considered all options, including increasing her priority points”.

It was agreed that Kensington and Chelsea council apologise to Ms X and pay her £3,900 for the 26 months spent in unsuitable accommodation up until February 2024, with further payments of £150 a month until she and her children are relocated.

A Kensington and Chelsea council spokesman said: “We are sorry for failing the resident in this case and fully accept the Ombudsman’s recommendations.”

Pictured top: Kensington town hall, off Hornton Street (Picture: Google Street View)

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