BRADFORD COUNCIL in West Yorkshire has come under fire after it was revealed it was tackling a backlog of more than 500 tribunal appeals against refusal of housing benefit.
The scale of the problem came to light when Local Government and Social Care ombudsman Michael King investigated a single case of a woman who accused the council of delaying her appeal to a tribunal. He discovered there was a backlog of 512 delayed appeals stretching back to February 2015.
Mr King said: “Tribunals have to deal with cases fairly and justly, and councils have a duty to help them do this. So it is not acceptable that Bradford Council held up the process and withheld people’s appeal rights.
“In situations like this, it is vital that learning from a single complaint is used to improve the public service for others.”
A spokesperson for Bradford People’s Assembly said: “Not only have hundreds of families been turned down for help with housing costs but also this may have caused people to take out high-cost credit or even be made homeless.”
A Bradford Council spokesman said: “The backlog of cases has built up as a result of us focusing our resources on dealing with new claims to ensure people who need some support get paid in the first instance.
“We accept the number of cases waiting to be heard by a tribunal is not acceptable and we are following the Local Government and Social Care ombudsman’s recommendation to resolve this situation.”
He said 200 of the 512 cases had now been dealt with.