A disabled homeless man was denied access to a bath for 17 months
because social services did not consider bathing to be an
“essential activity”, according to a report by the Local Government
The case is one of 61 highlighted in a digest published last week,
taken from 19,000 complaints made to the ombudsman last year.
The report tells of a wheelchair user who became homeless and was
placed in a hostel without disabled access to bathing
An occupational therapist advised the council that the hostel was
suitable because “according to social services criteria, bathing
was not an essential activity unless there was an identified
medical need”, it says.
Finding maladministration, the ombudsman said this would not be the
view of most people.
In another case, a homeless single father was charged £23 a
week extra for having furniture in his temporary accommodation. He
had agreed to the charge while it was paid for by housing benefit,
but refused to pay it himself once he found a job.
The ombudsman said the council’s charging policy was unlawful.
In a third case, a woman was threatened with having her application
to foster a third child withdrawn unless she apologised for being
rude to a council officer.
Noting that no record of the disputed phone call had been kept by
the council, the ombudsman said the response had been “harsh and
– 2003-4 digest from www.lgo.org.uk/digest.htm