Northampton

Northampton council guily of 'failing' disabled man

A council that failed to fund an extension to a disabled man's Northampton home is guilty of maladministration, investigators said.

Northampton Borough Council has been told to pay the man and his wife £5,000 in compensation, the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) said.

The man has a degenerative medical condition and needed an extension to improve his bathing facilities.

Council bosses said they fully accepts the LGO's findings.

The report is going before the council's cabinet committee on Wednesday.

It showed that in 2009 the man, who has not been named, applied for the extension for his privately rented home in October 2009.

Two occupational therapists found the extension was necessary and a council officer found the works were reasonable and practicable.

The private landlord had also given permission.

'Considerable injustice'

However, the council refused to give the disabled facilities grant (DFG) because the man had a shorthold tenancy agreement and instead offered him and his wife a council-owned property, which could be converted for his needs.

LGO Dr Jane Martin said the key legal point was that in applying for the DFG grant "an applicant need only certify an intention to remain in the property for five years and if they leave within that time they will be required to repay a proportion of the grant".

She said the council was guilty of maladministration causing injustice.

The delay in providing the extension had "given rise to considerable distress and left [the man and his wife] living in very difficult conditions... This is considerable injustice", she said.

Council leader David Mackintosh said: "We take any case involving the Ombudsman very seriously and fully accept the findings in this case which dates back to 2009.

"The matter will be discussed at cabinet next week where members will consider what lessons can be learnt from this unfortunate situation, and how the council can improve how it deals with these requests in the future."

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