Mother receives apology after council threatened to make her homeless
A mother will receive an apology and compensation from a council after a row over her immigration status that threatened to leave her homeless.
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has ordered Sandwell Council to pay £200 to the woman after the council’s mishandling of the case.
The ombudsman’s findings came in a report on how the council had handled a complaint by the mother, referred to as Miss X, who said council bosses didn’t believe she had applied to stay in the UK and told her she and her children should leave the country.
Saying the council was at fault in the way it had handled her case and the subsequent complaint, the local government watchdog found: “Miss X suffered avoidable distress and loss of support because of this fault.”
A report outlining the case said Miss X came to the UK on a student visa and her two children were born here.
She remained in the country after her visa ran out and in 2014 she was offered accommodation by the council as her children were seen as being in need.
At that time the council advised her to contact the Home Office to ask for leave to remain in the country.
In 2017 the council decided that because her immigration status hadn’t changed it was no longer required to provide her support.
A human rights assessment by the authority in July said there were no legal or practical barriers to her returning to her country of origin.
She said a council officer had accused her of lying when she said she had applied for leave to remain in the UK and the council had refused proof of postage as evidence she had sent the forms to the Home Office.
The council said it had checked with the immigration service which said it hadn’t received the application.
In September 2017 the council told her it was stopping its support.
Later that month the Home Office confirmed it had received an application from Miss X and the council withdrew its decision. She was later granted permission to remain in the UK. The ombudsman criticised officers for not accepting proof of postage as evidence.
By George Makin
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