Leeds City Council forced to pay £800 in compensation after man returns from hospital to find possessions gone
The Leeds man found family photos, ornaments and jewellery had been removed and disposed of during a deep clean of his house, the Local Government Ombudsman said.
The work had been carried out by a council contractor while he was in hospital, after a police officer who visited the home found his living conditions to be “some of the worst I’ve seen”.
But while some items were supposed to be removed, a report blamed “confusion or a breakdown in communication” for the removal of sentimental possessions. In its ruling on the case, the Ombudsman told Leeds City Council to pay out £800 in compensation over the error.
Referring to the man anonymously as ‘Mr Y’, the watchdog’s report told how the authorities received two safeguarding referrals about him in March 2022, both of which raised concerns about “self-neglect” and the home’s condition.
Soiled carpets, broken furniture and items “soaked in urine and faeces” were all found in the property and a deep clean was arranged. A television, microwave, electric fire, casserole dishes, pillows, mobile phone, walking stick and slippers were among the material possessions removed.
But the Ombudsman said the council was mistaken in believing the man gave permission for everything except his “walking stick, easy chair and hospital letters” to be taken away, after asking him for instructions while he was treated in hospital.
The report said this “was evidenced by the distress he suffered when he returned home to find his house almost empty of possessions.”
It added: “I only found evidence Mr Y agreed for damaged items to be disposed of. He did not agree to all his possessions except the three items stipulated to be disposed of.”
The watchdog has told the local authority to pay Mr Y £400 to replace white goods that were removed, plus another £300 in recognition of the “avoidable distress”. It also told the council to pay £100 to Mr Y’s friend, who complained on his behalf, though it noted the local authority had already offered this.
A spokesperson for Leeds City Council said: “The council has accepted the Ombudsman’s findings and has already fully implemented the recommendations set out in the report. We strive to ensure residents have access to the best support as well as clear advice and guidance, and we will always take necessary action to make improvements when required.”