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I received a complaint from Mr S about Wrexham County Borough Council (“the Council”). Mr S is a disabled single person, who lives with his mother, a council tenant. Due to mobility difficulties, generally he is confined to a bedroom at the property. He said that the bedroom is in a state of disrepair and that despite complaining about the disrepair for some time, no repairs had been done. Mr S said that his mother’s council house is not adapted and is unsuitable for his needs. He complained that he had applied for housing “…over 10 years ago” yet the Council’s records only show that his first application was made in July 2007. Mr S said that, as a regular wheelchair user, he has been offered properties that are unsuitable for his needs. He believed that the Council had failed to fulfil its statutory responsibilities, as it did not appear to have a separate “Disabled Persons Housing List”.

The investigation found evidence of systemic failures in the Council’s approach to handling Mr S’s application for housing. The Council failed to follow relevant legislation, statutory guidance and its own policies and procedures on a number of occasions. Poor record keeping compounded the failings.

I recommended that the Council should apologise to Mr S for the indentified failings; pay him £1500 as redress; and thoroughly re-assesses his housing application and homelessness status. I also recommended that the Council should train all housing staff, on the recognition of homelessness and identifying when inquiries must commence. The Council should apologise to Mrs G for the delays in dealing with the disrepair and ensure that the repairs to the property are now completed.

In addition, I recommended that the Council should:
• review the Housing Department’s procedures to ensure that they fully and properly reflect legislation and statutory guidance;
• review the Department’s systems to ensure that it is able to match housing applications from disabled people effectively and appropriately to suitable properties;
• review the Department’s record keeping methods, to ensure that the records maintained comply with the Data Protection Act; and
• review the Department’s communication and information sharing mechanisms, to ensure that lessons learnt contribute to an improvement in the service provided.

Lastly, I recommended that the Council should consider adopting the Model Complaints Policy and Guidance issued by the Welsh Government in July 2011.

The full report can be downloaded below.