London homeless sent to Liverpool City Region without council knowing

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Vulnerable homeless families were moved more than 200 miles by several London councils.

London councils sent dozens of vulnerable homeless families more than 200 miles to temporary accommodation in Liverpool City Region – without informing the local council.

The families – who were not refugees – were sent to live in Columba Hall in Widnes at the end of last year, and Halton Borough Council only became aware of their presence in the area after a safeguarding issue was reported.

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Columba Hall has 22 apartments and is leased by community interest company Elemel, which provides accommodation for vulnerable people.

Those sent from ‘several’ London councils included 24 adults and 23 children. The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands the councils then failed to notify Halton of the placements, leaving what the authority described as ‘vulnerable clients and children’ placed out of area without any additional support.

Columba Hall in WidnesColumba Hall in Widnes
Columba Hall in Widnes | Google

Discovery: The council became aware of the situation after a safeguarding issue was raised and then brought in support services for people who had been suffering – among other issues – domestic abuse – as well as children’s social workers.

What’s next: The authority said it has since been consulting with the residents in regular meetings to find out where they want to go next, with most preferring returning to London to be close to friends and family. Halton Council said it still does not know whether those moved knew where they were heading when they were moved out of London.

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A Halton Borough Council spokeswoman, said: “The clients were placed in Columba Hall via the London Boroughs late last year and, when it was brought to our attention, local service support was  put in place.

“A full consultation process was completed with all the residents to determine the situation and address their needs. The majority of clients confirmed they wished to return back to their local authority area to be close to family and support networks.”

She added: “Halton is currently working with the clients and the London Boroughs to ensure a full support relocation plan is put in place for those residents who wish to return.

“Alternative measures are also being  arranged for those clients who wish to remain in Halton, with additional support in place to address any ongoing issues.”

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