Birmingham City Council has been ordered to pay almost £4,000 to a family of five forced to live in a one-bedroom B&B flat for over four months.
The Local Government Ombudsman described the family’s treatment as ‘totally unacceptable’. They have received an apology from the council.
The mum and her four children, who fled their home following threats of violence, stayed in the cramped accommodation for 17 weeks.
Government policy states B&Bs are not suitable for families. In any case, they should be used for a maximum six weeks as an emergency measure.
After enduring the flat, the woman, who has not been named, was transferred to a three-bedroom home with a broken oven, cold shower and mice infestation. It took a year for her to be permanently rehoused and, to add insult to injury, she was then handed a £1,900 bill for storing belongings.
The Local Government Ombudsman has ruled the council handled her homeless application poorly and sent her an unreasonable storage bill.
Ombudsman Nigel Ellis said: “Nearly four months is a totally unacceptable period for any family to be housed in bed and breakfast – let alone a five-person family in one-room accommodation.
“That is why such a significant amount has been recommended as a remedy for the injustice.”
The Ombudsman has ordered the City Council to apologise, pay damages of £1,980 to the woman for stress and anxiety caused and £2,000 to cover the injustice of keeping children in bed and breakfast accommodation for a prolonged time.
It has also ordered the council to ‘reasses’ the storage bill.
A Birmingham City Council spokesman said: “We accept the findings of the report and apologise for any distress and anxiety caused to the claimant.”