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Mum-of-three ‘upset’ after mistake left her believing she was days away from new council house

PUBLISHED: 07:47 24 February 2019 | UPDATED: 10:07 25 February 2019

Hayley Rice with her three children. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Hayley Rice with her three children. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

A mum-of-three says she was left “angry and upset” after a council mistake led her to believe she was days away from moving into a bigger property.

Hayley Rice says her council flat is too small for her family. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodHayley Rice says her council flat is too small for her family. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Hayley Rice thought her family would finally be leaving their two-bed ground floor flat earlier and moving to a three-bed council house on Jex Road.

The 26-year-old had been put into one of the highest priority bandings for social housing and claims she was at the top of the bidding list for the property.

But after Norwich City Council realised there had been an error with her prioritisation, she was moved back down the list earlier this month and lost the house.

Unemployed Miss Rice, who lives at Regina Road, said: “I was fuming. I was that angry that I just sat here and burst into tears.

“I had told my little girl we would be moving and she was so excited because she would finally have her own bedroom.

“I was just waiting for a phone call to say we could have it. I was days away from getting the keys because once we viewed it we would have taken it.

“I asked them how I could have got as far as being put on gold [banding] and the council said it was just human error.”

A city council spokesman confirmed a mistake had been made.

Under the council’s home options scheme, people on the housing register are given a banding ranging from emergency to low, through gold, silver and bronze.

They can then ‘bid’ for properties when they come up on the Home Options website, and a property is offered to the applicant who falls into the highest banding of those who have applied.

Mrs Rice, who lives with her partner Thomas Burcham, said she had been on a gold banding for three weeks, having previously been on bronze.

She said: “When I was on bronze, I was 67th in line for a property. But when I was gold I was first for that property all week until they took it away.”

Mrs Rice said her family needed to move out of their flat as her daughter, who is five, is having to share a bedroom with her two-year-old son.

She also has an 11-month-old boy who sleeps in the same room as her 31-year-old unemployed partner and herself.

“It is absolutely horrible,” she said. “We are two adults and three children living in a two-bed home.”

A spokesperson for Norwich City Council said: “We have spoken to Hayley and apologised for our mistake that meant she was able to bid for properties as if she was in gold band.

“Hayley’s circumstances mean she was correctly placed in bronze band when she applied to join the housing register and that remains the case.

“Bronze banding puts her in good position for successfully bidding on suitable properties, as assessed during the application process.”

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