A Lincolnshire council is reviewing its allocations policy after being rapped by an ombudsman for barring a couple wanting to care for an elderly relative from joining its housing waiting list.
East Lindsey District Council’s policy for allocating social housing was this week found by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman to have breached the Public Sector Equality Duty.
The ombudsman looked into the policy after receiving a complaint from a couple prevented from joining the council’s waiting list because they did meet local connection criteria, despite them wanting to provide care to an elderly relative who lived in East Lindsey.
It concluded that the policy does not consider the needs of people with disabilities when dismissing caregivers’ claims to a local connection.
Local government and social care ombudsman Michael King said: “While councils have some freedom to decide the criteria on who qualifies for their housing register, they must also act in line with legal requirements in the Housing Act 1996, and cannot disqualify whole groups of people who would otherwise have priority.
“In this case the problems I have found meant the couple missed the opportunity to have their application considered properly.
“And because there is a high number of older people living in the district, this may have also unfairly affected other people too.
“I am pleased the council has agreed to examine its policy in light of my findings and reconsider the couple’s application.”
The ombudsman told the council to apologise to the couple and reconsider their application following the investigation, as well as recommending it review its allocations scheme and all similar cases since October 2019.
Michelle Howard, assistant director for housing and wellbeing at East Lindsey Council, said: “We are in the process of reviewing and amending our housing allocations policy in light of the complaint that was received and the ombudsman’s finding to allow people to move to the area to provide support in some circumstances.
“We have a high demand for properties in the area and the policy provides the framework for how the allocations are made, including the prioritisation to those most in need.
“We have apologised to the complainant and have committed to reassess their housing register application in line with the revised policy.
“We are also contacting any other applicants impacted by the policy position to invite them to request a reassessment of their application.”