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A London council has been accused of forcing the closure of a housing advice service because it had referred them to the Local Government Ombudsman.
Threshold Housing Advice (THA), based in Shepherd's Bush, closed in November after losing funding from Hammersmith & Fulham Council in July. However, rather than being the result of cuts in public spending, the Labour opposition claims that the reason was probably revenge.
In 2009, THA referred Hammersmith & Fulham Council to the ombudsman after it failed to house a pregnant victim of domestic violence in emergency accommodation. She was forced to sleep out in a park for four nights. As a result, in January 2010, the council was found guilty of "maladministration causing injustice." The ombudsman's report stated: "the standard of record keeping by housing officers in this case was so poor that it hindered the ombudsman's investigation of the complaint and fell so far below acceptable standards that it amounts to maladministration."
After the cuts made to THA, Cllr Stephen Cowan, leader of the Labour opposition, told the Hammersmith & Kensington Times: "It is hard not to reach the conclusion that the removal of all Council funding to that organisation is anything other than cold-hearted revenge." This charge was countered by Cllr Joe Carlebach, cabinet member for community care, who stated that the decision had been made after looking at all applications for funding and at the limited funds available.