Birmingham Council have been fined £4,000 for housing a woman and four children in temporary accommodation for four months.
The accommodation was unsuitable as it was a one-bedroom room in a bed and breakfast, so the council have had to pay the fine to the family for their actions.
Birmingham Council have been told to pay almost £4,000 to a family as it was decided they handled their housing situation poorly.
A woman and her four children were housed in a one-bedroom bed and breakfast for over four months, after she applied to the council as homeless.
She had to leave her home due to harassment and threats of violence in June 2010, and applied for herself and her family to be declared homeless.
The council refused her homelessness application in August 2010, and then upheld that decision following a review of the case.
They were court ordered to make a second review of the case, where she was finally accepted as homeless in July 2011 – 13 months after the initial application.
During this time, she and her family were placed in a one-bedroom bed and breakfast accommodation for 17 weeks, 11 weeks more than the amount of time policy permits councils to use this as emergency accommodation.
Following the family’s extended stay in the unsuitable accommodation, they have complained to the Local Government Ombudsman who have upheld the complaint and issued the fine. The council have accepted this fine.
Nigel Ellis, executive director for investigations at the LGO, said:
Nearly four months is a totally unacceptable period for any family to be housed in B&B – let alone a five-person family in one-room accommodation – and that is why such a significant amount has been recommended as a remedy for the injustice.
An inappropriate use of B&B accommodation by councils to house people is a trend we are noticing, so we want other councils to be aware that government guidance is clear that it is an unsuitable long-term option for families.
A spokesperson for Birmingham Council said:
We accept the findings of the report and apologise for any distress and anxiety caused to the claimant.‘In recent years, unlike most local authorities, we have substantially reduced the average stay in bed and breakfast accommodation and our aim is to build on these improvements.