Medway Council 'failed homeless teen left to sleep in tent'

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The council missed at least five chances to make sure the 17-year-old was safe, a report finds

A teenager was left to live in a tent for two months after a council kicked his family out of temporary accommodation during the pandemic.

Medway Council failed the "vulnerable" 17-year-old and missed at least five chances to make sure he was safe, an investigation found.

They suffered "avoidable hardship and distress", the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said.

The council has apologised and paid £3,200 compensation.

Council staff failed to consider Covid-19 guidance when the family were made homeless in July, the ombudsman said.

Both the woman and her son repeatedly contacted the council throughout July and August, but the council failed to realise it had a legal duty "given the inherent risk of significant harm" the teenager faced sleeping rough.

In September they were told to find a house on the private market.

The council changed its position after the woman contacted the ombudsman and three days later they were moved into a B&B.

'Vulnerable teenager'

Ombudsman Michael King said that councils faced "difficult circumstances" during the pandemic, with laws and guidelines rapidly changing.

However, he said that "despite these challenging circumstances, the council in this case failed in its duties to a vulnerable teenager who was sleeping rough, and it missed numerous opportunities to ensure he was safe".

The family now have a permanent home and staff will receive "refresher training on identifying information from potential applicants," the council said.

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