RESIDENTS in sheltered housing have been awarded compensation from their landlord after it was found to have breached the terms of a contract over the way it removed support services.

Together Housing, which manages Willow Gardens in Darwen, was ordered by the Housing Ombudsman to pay residents £250 each after it failed to carry out an appropriate consultation process prior to the removal of support services in April 2017.

Residents said they have had their services cut to the point where they are now classed as living independently, but that Together Housing didn’t follow the appropriate channels of consultation, leaving them with no choice but to go to the Housing Ombudsman.

David Lord, a resident in Willow Gardens said: “The Ombudsman found that there was severe maladministration by Together Housing in respect of its failure to follow an appropriate legal process when stopping weekly calls.

“Basically, the tenancy agreement signed by residents who moved in before 2015 states that they will receive a daily visit.

“Together Housing broke this agreement by taking that away without proper consultation or providing a variation of contractual terms.

“The tenancy agreement stated that the services provided at the beginning of the tenancy would remain there till the end of the tenancy. This is obviously not the case now, and we really need those support services.”

The ongoing saga, which dates back to 2016, concerns the cutting of support services, which were reduced drastically from one morning security call per day to one weekly call in 2017.

The weekly call has now ceased altogether and Together Housing is claiming that this is due to funding from the council being stopped, and any resident wanting a visit will have to pay for it.

The Ombudsman found that there was no evidence that Together Housing followed an appropriate legal process when removing the services and as well as compensation, was also ordered to apologise to all residents.

Head of supported housing at Together Housing, Sue Lewis, said: “We fully respect the Ombudsman’s findings which were about the process we followed during the consultation rather than the outcome.

“We have apologised to the residents affected and paid compensation in line with the judgement.

“We have previously advised the residents on the variety of options available to them in terms of care and support when the warden service was withdrawn.

“To try to reach a solution for all residents, we met with them and committed to undertaking further consultation on the variety of support service options and associated charges available.

“We are currently in the process of coordinating this using an independent organisation and will let residents know the arrangements in due course.

“We are keen to continue working with residents to find a solution.

“We do have Supported Housing Officers based in the local area who visit the scheme weekly and all residents have access to a 24-hour alarm with the option of a connection to a 24-hour response team.”