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Disabled woman handed compensation after council delay left her sleeping on sofa

By Megan Archer | Dudley | Health | Published:

A disabled Dudley woman forced to sleep on her sofa for 18 months while waiting for adaptations to her home has been awarded compensation.

Dudley Council House

The woman had to crawl on her hands and knees to get to her upstairs bathroom because of delays in vital works to her home, the Local Government Ombudsman found.

And when ‘Mrs X’ tried to contact Dudley Council to complain, her emails and calls were ignored, the report said.

The ombudsman found the unnamed woman waited for almost three years for a specially designed bathroom and ground floor bedroom which guidelines said should have taken only five months to install.

In his report ombudsman, Michael King, outlined a catalogue of delays by Dudley Council starting in September 2015.

An occupational therapist recommended a second handrail be installed on the stairs and adaptations were carried out to her upstairs bathroom, but in December she contacted the council to say the new equipment was not working and she was unable to shower.

‘Mrs X’ was told she would have to be reassessed but despite complaints no-one from the authority met with her until August 2016 when it was agreed she needed a ground floor bathroom and bedroom as she was then having to use a wheelchair.

Over the next 13 months the delays mounted as a Disabled Facilities Grant was approved and plans drawn up. During this time she was forced to sleep on her on sofa because she couldn’t get upstairs.

The problems were made worse when both an architect and a contractor pulled out and work only started in July last year.

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The authority refused a claim for compensation unless she could prove financial loss. In his findings, the ombudsman said the authority was only directly responsible for avoidable delays on its part.

Awarding Mrs X £500 in compensation the ombudsman added: “She was caused upset due to the council’s failure to respond to her emails and calls. Mrs X slept on a sofa for seven months longer than necessary.”

Councillor Laura Taylor, cabinet member for housing, communities and residents welfare said: “Last year we spent over £5million helping hundreds of people adapt their homes to help them live comfortably and independently. We pride ourselves on offering a professional, compassionate service, but in this instance, we were not up to our normal high standard and we apologise.

“We accept the findings of the ombudsman and have already compensated the claimant and sent a letter of apology. This falls very short of the high standards we expect of ourselves and our contractors and we will make sure that we learn from this experience.”

Megan Archer

By Megan Archer
Chief Reporter - @MeganA_Star

Chief Reporter with the Express & Star. Give me a call on 01902 319363 or email megan.archer@expressandstar.co.uk.

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