Interesting item about Labour controlled Lewisham Council in the Rotten Boroughs column of the current issue of Private Eye. It concerns their Staying Put scheme. This is the scheme where home improvements are funded so that disabled people can remain at home – which they generally prefer than institutional care which would also be much more expensive to the taxpayer.
However, Private Eye adds:
That's the theory. But after David and Sepi Peckover, from south London. applied to Lewisham Council for help building a loft extension so that their son, who from suffers asperger's syndrome, could be cared for at home they ended up homeless with their house an uninhabitable wreck. Seven years after their nightmare began they are still living in 'temporary' accommodation with nod idea when they will be able to return to their home. And they reckon the saga has cost taxpayers at least £300,000 – so far.
The item goes on to detail years of delay with the Council's Staying Put team and the Council's Planning Department blaming each other for failure to produce the correct drawings. Calls went answered. Staff illness was blamed. More delay.
Eventually, work started in 2006, three years after the process began. But failure by the council to pay for the work on time led to the builders downing tools while the roof was off – leaving the interior exposed to heavy rain in the winter of 2007 which rendered the house uninhabitable. The council's building control officers then expressed grave concerns about the substandard work their own grant surveyor colleagues had released money for. Three years later the Peckover's house remains a wreck and they are reduced to living on benefits.