Tower Hamlets Council apologises over homeless pregnant woman left sleeping on floor

Tower Hamlets Council. Picture: Mike Brooke

Tower Hamlets Council. Picture: Mike Brooke - Credit: Archant

Tower Hamlets Council has said it is improving record keeping in its housing service after a homeless pregnant woman was left sleeping on the floor of an unfurnished bedsit miles from her family after approaching them for help.

Earlier this month the town hall was criticised in a report by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman after an investigation found the vulnerable woman was put in an "unsuitable" flat and left without a bed for a month.

At a council cabinet meeting last week, director of housing and regeneration Karen Swift said it was "clear we fell short and didn't consider her needs".

"Our record keeping was not substantial enough," she said. "Conversations may have been had with her about her needs but were not documented."

Ms Swift added the council was now making sure vulnerable people who need housing are not being booked into unfurnished properties.

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The Ombudsman said that when the unnamed woman first went to the local authority after being told to leave her father's home last year, the council delayed assessing her and did not take steps to prevent her becoming homeless.

When she found out she was pregnant she again went to Tower Hamlets, but instead of immediately providing her with accommodation it demanded extra evidence from her and she was left to sofa-surf with friends. After giving them her pregnancy scan the housing team eventually put her completely unfurnished accommodation in another borough, which did not take into account her medical needs.

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She was forced to sleep on the floor for a month before being awarded a grant to buy a bed.

Council chief executive Will Tuckley said: "I just want to make clear that we are sorry we didn't get it right and someone suffered as a consequence. The housing options service has been under great pressure. [But] it isn't just the responsibility of that service to bring about improvement, it's the responsibility of the whole council."

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