Council forced to apologise to New Addington man after staff comments about his mental health

Croydon Council has been forced to apologise after the Housing Ombudsman determined that housing staff made “unqualified and inappropriate comments” about a man’s mental health.

The New Addington man, who wished to remain anonymous, made several complaints to the council in 2015 and 2016, ranging from noise complaints to claims he had been verbally abused and threatened by neighbours and that he wanted to move.

The man also noted he suffered from mental health issues and “severe depression”.

The council said the man would need to take part in mediation to “resolve any tension”, but the man refused, saying this would not solve the issue of “all his neighbours being against him”.

The council responded to the man’s concerns by saying it did not consider all his neighbours were against him, but instead “that feeling was a manifestation of your declining mental health”.

The man continued to make complaints to the council about his neighbours and also had complaints made about him.

The man then complained to the Ombudsman early in 2017. He said the council had failed to investigate his complaint about his neighbours and that it had discriminated against him and threatened him with eviction.

The Ombudsman did not comment on the complaints made by the man, rather the nature of how the council responded to those complaints.

In its determination, the Ombudsman found “there was maladministration by the council in regard to your complaint about its response to your reports about anti-social behaviour. In addition, there was maladministration in regard to its complaint handling.”

The council was ordered pay £500 to the man in compensation, write to the man to apologise and also review its procedure.

A council spokesman said: “We fully accept the Housing Ombudsman’s findings and apologise to (the man) that the service he received in this case fell short of the standards we expect of our staff.

“We carry out regular awareness training for our employees, including on mental health, and this case has prompted updated internal training on how housing staff handle complaints of this nature.”

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