The local Government Ombudsman has expressed concerns around how Local Authourities behave when people seek help and advice around their homelessness issues in the current economic climate. ‘Gatekeeping’ is the term that keeps popping up. We certainly find it frustrating that the people we support who really struggle to engage well with support services and have many complex support needs can find themselves not only wanting help but needing to be motivated enough to fight hard in order to get what they are entitled to.
Dr Jane Martin, Ombudsman and Chair of the Commission for Local Administration in England, said:
“The complaints we receive suggest councils should consider how they meet their responsibilities to homeless people. We see too many cases where individuals have suffered injustice at a particularly precarious moment in their lives when they most needed help.
“Often extremely vulnerable, they can find themselves sleeping rough or on people’s sofas, struggling to find the foothold that would allow them to change their circumstances. When councils fail to give them a helping hand at that key moment, it can affect that individual for years.
“I am concerned that more people could now suffer injustice because of the combined impact of a tough economic climate and the serious budget pressures on councils. It’s really important that councils are alert to this very significant risk. We want to help them understand the dangers and take action to avoid mistakes.”