A mum and her three kids have a four-hour school run after a council moved them 35 miles away from their former South London home to Essex. Patricia Roman, 41, and her children were sent to Basildon by Lambeth Council after asking for help when they were evicted from their West Norwood home in October last year.

The mum-of-three said she had to give up her early morning cleaning job in the capital because she couldn’t get there on time from Essex. Meanwhile, her eldest son, 15, slept over at friends’ houses while doing exams at his South London school.

Ms Roman estimates she spends £80 per week travelling on trains and buses between Basildon and the capital so that she can take her kids to school and continue studying English at college. She is now calling on Lambeth Council to find her more suitable accommodation near her former West Norwood home, which she believes would allow her to begin working again and stop further disruption to her kids’ education.

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She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “When I moved to Basildon I lost my work and I lost my life. I have my life in London. I have my friends there and now it’s different. I’m a single parent. The train tickets are expensive.

“When I was living in London my job was early in the morning and it was too early to get to on time from Basildon. I called them [Lambeth]. I explained my situation but they don’t listen to me. I explained that my eldest son started GCSEs, but they didn’t do anything.

“I want to change to a house near [to] the school of my children. It’s difficult for me. I can't find a new job in Basildon because I have to take my kids to school in London.”

Ms Roman also claims the council broke its own policy in housing her so far away from the borough.

Lambeth’s Housing Placements Policy, last updated in February 2022, states that families, where at least one child is in their final year of GCSEs, should be “prioritised for accommodation” within around 30 minutes of the borough by public transport. The same principle applies for households where one family member has been working for at least six months before making a homeless application.

Ms Roman claims she fulfilled both criteria when she approached Lambeth Council for help last year, so shouldn't have been housed so far away in Basildon. In response, the council told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that it had “complied with regulations.”

Last November, the High Court ruled that Lambeth had acted unlawfully when it moved another homeless family to East Tilbury in Essex. The family’s eldest daughter was also studying for her GCSEs and the court found the council had failed to consider the impact of the Essex house on her education. Campaign group Housing Action Lambeth and Southwark (HASL), which is supporting Ms Roman and her family in their battle, branded the house in Basildon “completely unsuitable.”

Elizabeth Wyatt from HASL said: “It's insulting that Lambeth Council are putting the onus on vulnerable homeless families to review the unsuitable temporary when it is their legal duty to provide homeless families with suitable temporary accommodation in the first place. It's clear to anyone that housing a family from Lambeth outside of London is totally unsuitable, especially when a child is studying for their GCSE exams.”

A Lambeth Council spokesperson said: “We empathise with those experiencing the impacts of the severe housing crisis London faces. There is a huge gap between the level of demand for accommodation and the number of affordable homes available across the capital, including Lambeth.

“This sad reality leaves families and young people living in poor-quality homes or struggling to put a roof above their heads. In Lambeth alone more than 38,000 people are on the waiting list for social housing and, every night, the council provides temporary accommodation for more than 3,000 homeless families – including more than 5,000 children.

“We do everything we can to find the most suitable accommodation available for homeless families, in the face of this severe shortage of affordable housing. However, it is sometimes not possible to find suitable, permanent accommodation within Lambeth; we, therefore, have to house families in temporary accommodation until a permanent home becomes available.

“We have complied with regulations and have provided this family with alternative suitable temporary accommodation. But households in temporary accommodation do have a right of review if they feel the accommodation offered to them is unsuitable for their needs.”

2023-03-20T16:59:53Z dg43tfdfdgfd