Peterborough council pays out £1,650 after social housing error left person struggling to access accommodation

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They’ve been granted £150 for every month the error left the person, who has not been named, without social housing

Peterborough City Council (PCC) has awarded £1,650 in compensation to a person who should have been giving priority access to social housing in the city, but was incorrectly categorised for seven months.

The person, who has not been named, should have been placed in the category of most need in April last year after PCC adopted a new housing allocations policy, a council report says, but this didn’t happen until late October.

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During this time, in which there were also “general delays in communication”, the person would have been shortlisted for a property that became available in May, it continues.

Peterborough City CouncilPeterborough City Council
Peterborough City Council

As such, the council has agreed to pay out £150 for every month the person wasn't housed as a result of this error.

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PCC’s housing allocations policy, which sets out who is eligible to apply for housing provided by the council or social landlords such as Cross Keys Homes or the Longhurst group, was amended to give greater priority to people who “work with us to prevent their homelessness”, the council says.

In practice, this means reporting to the council as soon as there is a threat of the loss of housing rather than waiting until there are few alternatives.

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But there are a range of reasons someone could be eligible for social housing, including having a disability that requires specialist support or having recently left the care system.

Another change to the policy was that people on the register had to confirm they wished to remain on it, resulting in more than 1,000 people being taken off.

In the case of the person awarded compensation, their complaints were reviewed by council officers both within and outside the service before the size of the pay out was agreed, PCC says.

Awards of this type are “not common”, its report notes, and it had to be signed off by council cabinet member for housing Cllr Steve Allen (Conservatives, Eye, Thorney and Newborough) due to its size.

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The complaint was escalated to stage 2 – i.e. director level – in March this year, with the subsequent report on the incident published in July.

“The stage 2 complaint review found that the complainant had been disadvantaged because of the delays in assessing and processing their application for housing,” it says.

“Had their application for housing been assessed correctly in accordance with Peterborough Homes Allocations Policy the complainant would have received an offer of accommodation in a timelier manner.”

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