Leeds housing delays left disabled woman confined for two years

Leeds Council failed to meet the needs of a profoundly disabled woman, who was confined to the front room of her house for two years, a local government ombudsman ruled today.

As a result of the council’s failure to adapt the family home, the woman, known as Mrs E, was unable to use a wheelchair and confined to the front room, without access to a bathroom, for two years after she was discharged from hospital.

The two-year delay was caused by disputes in the grants section department at the council which argued that not all the proposed work was necessary. 

The ombudsman, Anne Seex, recommended that the council award Mrs E £6,605 in compensation and review its administrative procedures. The council has accepted the recommendations and has also set up an appeal panel to resolve adaptation disputes.

In a report published today, Seex criticised the council for failing to have direct social care contact with the family for over 15 months, failing to meet its legal duties to the woman, under Section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act, and failing to handle her disabled facilities grant (DFG) application.

The family initially applied to be rehoused to a home that was wheelchair accessible or a home which was easy to adapt in October 2004, instead of adapting the present house.

The application was placed in the second highest priority group, but after an unsuccessful four months of bidding for properties under the Choice Based Lettings Scheme, the family applied for the DFG to adapt the current home.

In June 2006, Mrs E’s husband applied again to be rehoused – 22 months after Mrs E had been discharged from hospital – and the council agreed to do a direct let so that the family did not have to bid for properties and to use DFG funding to make changes to the current home for wheelchair access.

In March of this year, Mr E finally found a new property and it was adapted to meet Mrs E’s needs.     

Seex said: “It is some measure of the extreme pressure on social housing, especially properties adapted to be wheelchair accessible, that all the higher priority cases were in even more difficult situations than the complainant and his wife, and that allocations had been properly made to applicants with higher priority.”

More information

Local Government Ombudsman Report

Campaign: A life like any other

Essential information on physical disabilities

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