Mum and baby moved from London to North East Derbyshire - so council could “discharge its homeless duty”

A single mum and her baby were sent 150 miles from London to North East Derbyshire so that a council in the capital could end its responsibility to house them.

Friday, 3rd December 2021, 12:38 pm
The incident has been revealed in papers published by the Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust, as part of combined work with the Citizens Advice North East Derbyshire.

The incident has been revealed in papers published by the Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust, as part of combined work with the Citizens Advice North East Derbyshire.

These anonymised papers do not detail the identity or specific London and Derbyshire locations of the woman and baby in question, but do list that the woman was aged under 25.

The papers say the woman in question, renamed as Sam, had never previously been to North East Derbyshire and had no support system there.

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They say the “London borough council”, which has also not been named, moved the mum and baby so that it could “discharge its homeless duty”.

This refers to a council’s responsibility to house anyone who has formally declared themselves as homeless.

Neither the NHS trust or the Citizens Advice Bureau would detail the name of the council in question so that it could be approached for comment.

The paper says the woman’s mental health “was previously good but declined as a result of her situation”.

It details that the private rented flat that the mum and baby were moved to had heating problems, leading to “extensive mould and damp” in the property.

Sam could not get the heating in her flat to rise above 15C, despite setting the thermostat to 24C so that it was of an adequate temperature for her baby.

Due to the issues heating the flat, Sam was paying £20 every four days to keep the property warm and so was “choosing between eating properly herself and trying to keep the baby warm”.

The report details that Sam has asked for a review of the London borough council’s decision to scrap its duty to house her by “finding her accommodation hundreds of miles away”, with her request supported by evidence from a Derbyshire health visitor.

However, the review was turned down, the report says.

The report lists a London law centre as being contacted by Citizens Advice to see if it would assist Sam in her case and the law centre is said to have agreed to support her, but the name of the organisation in question is said to be a pseudonym to retain anonymity.

It also details that Citizens Advice had organised for Sam to receive food and baby items from a Derbyshire food bank, but the name of the relevant foodbank is also said to be a pseudonym.

North East Derbyshire District Council’s environmental health department has been made aware of the issues at Sam’s flat, the report says, and is to carry out investigations of the property.

If Sam’s case, taken on by the London law centre, is not successful, Citizens Advice says “we have established more grounds on which we can support Sam to be rehoused in more suitable accommodation in North East Derbyshire”.

The report details that Sam says “although her mental health was still suffering, she felt better because she could see the situation more clearly and had a better picture of the way forward”.

It says the young mum “felt that she was not being ‘fobbed off’ by us (Citizens Advice) as she felt she had been by others when trying to sort out her situation before”.

The report continues: “She felt that other agencies that she had tried to deal with e.g. estate agents and councils had been dismissive of her. Sam said she will come back for further advice and support as the situation develops.”

DCHS trust board members, discussing the case, said to date back to May this year, in a meeting on December 2, said it had them having to “reach for a hanky” and showed the value of NHS organisations working with charitable groups to tackle “hidden deprivation”.