We are very proud of our Law Centre and in particular solicitor Sharon Gunard who have had a successful Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) complaint outcome!
Miss B is vulnerable and suffers with extreme anxiety and depression. As a result she was treated by the mental health team at the South London & Maudsley Home Treatment Team. Unemployed and with no means of support she applied online for Housing Benefits. However, she was not told that in order to receive financial support she needed to make a claim under the new Universal Credit scheme. As a result, Miss B was left with significant rent arrears for which the Council tried to evict her.
Our Law Centre supported Miss B to make a complaint to The Local Government Ombudsman. The complaint was a success and the LGO concluded that the Council must do more in future to ensure vulnerable claimants fully understand the changes in relation to Universal Credit. This is particularly important because the maximum period of backdating for Universal Credit is one month which leaves people at risk of being left without income despite being entitled. In addition, they agreed the Council took too long (3 months) to inform the client of the mistake and recommended they ensure they write to those claimants (affected by such significant benefit changes) more quickly to inform them of the correct benefits to claim.
Too often, the complexity of the Universal Credit scheme and the staggering waiting times puts people at risk of financial debt, rent arrears and even homelessness. This good LGO complaint outcome is wonderful news, not only for Miss B but it will also have a positive impact for others in the community who might find themselves in a similar position.