BASINGSTOKE and Deane Borough Council has been ordered to pay out £4,500 following an ordered from the housing Ombudsman.

At the full council meeting on July 18, members heard how the Ombudsman had investigated a historical case where the complainant said that the borough council had mishandled his bid for housing.

The case relates to a time where there were changes in housing welfare, the complaint had applied for housing on the borough councils housing register, but a change to housing benefit provisions under welfare reform (“the benefit cap”) meant that his housing benefit entitlement no longer covered the full amount due and rent arrears began to accrue.

In their ruling the Ombudsman found that the borough council write a formal letter of apology to the complainant and pay out £4,500 in compensation.

At the meeting cabinet member for homes and families, - Cllr Tristan Robinson, said: “The case of dates back some six years and involves complicated technical issues around homelessness, allocations and welfare law.

“Changes in legislation and our own housing policy have been made during the lifespan of this housing application. In order to be open and accountable, to fully understand the context and reasoning behind the council’s decision.”

He added: “There is no question of the necessity and legitimacy of the Ombudsman to investigate public matters and determine his own independent view on how local authorities have handled their affairs.

“Likewise, we respect the legally binding nature of any findings he makes. As portfolio holder, I have complete confidence in the professionalism of our council officers.

“This report highlights how the Cabinet considered the ombudsman’s report and his recommendations and seeks approval for the payment of compensation and endorsement of the actions already taken by officers to redress the injustice caused.”

Even thought the borough agreed with the payment, part of the Ombudsman’s finding was to place the complaint at the top of any housing list for properties they did on.

However, Cllr Robinson said this was unjust.

He added: “If we were to do this it would be unfair on those most vulnerable in the borough who are in desperate need of accomodation.”