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Ombudsman upholds complaint and finds Ealing Council at fault over not sending letters to resident

Ealing Council has been criticised by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman and found at fault over its failure to respond to a resident.

In early 2022, the resident known as Mrs X contacted the council over a number of issues and said her family could no longer stay in their council provided temporary accommodation due to anti-social behaviour and harassment from a neighbour.

The council offered the family emergency accommodation which they refused as they said they wanted to stay in the existing temporary accommodation the resident and her family were in.

Following this, Mrs X later sent a change of circumstances form to the council about noise nuisance, threats and harassment from the neighbour.

Over the next few months from March to July 2022, Mrs X and her family were offered a number of options which they declined and also moved out of their temporary accommodation and into staying with friends and family.

Eventually the family said they wanted to come back to their original temporary accommodation. The Ombudsman reported: “The council said it was satisfied it had carried out necessary investigations into Mrs X’s reports of anti-social behaviour, harassment, and noise nuisance from the neighbour. It said that despite Mrs X’s complaint, the family still wanted to live at House A. The council said this was not possible because it no longer had a duty to house them because they had refused an offer of suitable alternative accommodation.”

Mrs X then took the matter to the Ombudsman.

In its findings report published on 15 August 2023, the Ombudsman said: “I therefore find that the family had to leave House A because Mrs X had refused an offer of suitable alternative accommodation at House B. This ended the council’s duty to house the family.”

Mrs X also complained that the council “did not escalate her application for an increase in housing priority banding due to her neighbour’s behaviour to its Social Welfare Panel (SWP)”. The Ombudsman said: “I find the council’s decision not to refer Mrs X’s case to the SWP was in line with its policy. I therefore do not find the council at fault.”

Mrs X added that the council did not send her its decision letters regarding her change of circumstances forms in March or July and said this meant she did not know about her right to ask for a review of these decisions. The Ombudsman sided with Mrs X on this. It said: “The council accepts that it did not send these two decision letters. This is fault. It caused injustice in that Mrs X did not know she could appeal either of these decisions. The council apologised for failing to send these letters and has reviewed its decisions in line with Mrs X’s requests. I am satisfied that the council’s apology and reviews remedy the injustice caused by this fault.”

Speaking to EALING.NEWS, leader of Ealing Liberal Democrats, Councillor Gary Malcolm said: “It amazes me how Labour-run Ealing Council keep on treating so many of our residents so badly. This latest example shows that the council has more problems that were known about. Liberal Democrats say that the council must take a root and branch approach and all senior managers need to check to see what procedural issues there might be and fix them ASAP to avoid more heartache and bad service given to residents.”

An Ealing Council spokesperson told EALING.NEWS: “A simple human error meant these two letters were missed, and we apologise to the tenants for any inconvenience this caused. The Ombudsman agreed that this oversight did not result in any disadvantage for the tenants, and the issue is now resolved.”

Click here to read the full report.

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