Man calls £300 compensation over council’s housing errors ‘an insult’
PUBLISHED: 10:48 24 March 2019 | UPDATED: 10:48 24 March 2019
A man who suffered two strokes said he was left feeling “let down” after receiving just £300 in compensation when a district council was found to have failed to listen to complaints about his housing situation.
Paul Mackay, 59, raised concerns on several occasions about his living situation at his sheltered housing accommodation in Swaffham with Breckland Council after his health problems worsened, meaning his property was no longer suitable for his needs as he couldn’t access his shower.
Mr Mackay then spent £3,000 of his savings, which he intended to use to pay for physiotherapy, on privately rented accommodation in Dereham, despite asking if he could rejoin the housing register early.
The independent ombudsman’s report shows that the council’s “failure to properly respond” to his complaints had caused “avoidable distress and frustration” and that the council “failed to consider if it should allow Mr Mackay to rejoin the housing register early”.
Mr Mackay said: “The council didn’t do anything to help me. It was just one phone call after another.
“The place wasn’t adapted for my needs. I ended up leaving the property as I couldn’t live there.
“I lost all that money, they weren’t helping me at all and didn’t get back to me. It went on and on.
“I had to get the ombudsman involved. It’s an insult, I feel very let down.”
Despite the failings that were found in the report, the ombudsman “could not conclude the fault by the council caused him to move into the property and use his savings” meaning they were unable to recommend the council pays him £3,000. Mr Mackay has since been able to move into another property near to the original one, which he says is “not great” but added that his health has improved.
A Breckland Council spokesperson said: “An apology was issued to Mr McKay on November 13, along with his compensation, which was awarded by the independent ombudsman.
“As a result of this case, the housing department has carried out a in-depth review of its procedures and instigated changes to help prevent this situation arising in future.”