Officials anger homeless family

BUNGLING officials added insult to injury when they wrongly told an Ipswich family they were intentionally homeless.They said there was nothing more they could do for Mark and Marie Smith - but after a review of the case accepted they were wrong.

BUNGLING officials added insult to injury when they wrongly told an Ipswich family they were intentionally homeless.

They said there was nothing more they could do for Mark and Marie Smith - but after a review of the case accepted they were wrong.

Mr and Mrs Smith were left with nowhere to live after the landlord of their privately rented house disappeared.

The Smiths sold their small terrace in November 2006 and moved with their three children to a larger house which they rented privately.

Just eight months into the lease, the family were forced to vacate the property when their landlord fell behind on mortgage payments and later vanished completely.

Turning to Ipswich Council for help, the Smiths were given temporary accommodation while their case was reviewed.

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Mr Smith, 45, said: “We were placed in a two room bed and breakfast for three weeks which was very demanding for us. After several confrontations with a disagreeable neighbour, I made a complaint and we were moved elsewhere.”

When their temporary accommodation period expired, the Smiths were met with the decision that they were responsible for the predicament and could only be housed for a further 28 days. After that they would have to make alternative arrangements.

Mr Smith said: “We were being held responsible for our position and not our former landlord. It seemed like we were taking the fall for his error. We were told that an appeal would take up to 56 days but we would only be given a place to live for 28 days. It makes it impossible to appeal. ”

Ipswich council has since recognised the oversight and apologised to the Smiths.

A spokesman said: "We have been in regular contact with Mr Smith and reversed our original decision as part of a review process we initiated ourselves.

“We apologise for the upset caused to the family and are pleased they now have found accommodation. We have also informed Mr Smith of the grievance and complaints process."

The Smith family are now privately renting another property but the council's mistake has left a lasting effect.

Mr Smith said: “My wife had to leave her part time job as a result of the stress it caused. I'm determined to highlight the issue to council tax payers and the chronic state of the housing situation in Ipswich.”