Housing and LASPO – Urgent

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill enters report stage in the House of Lords from 5 March. Any further amendments to the bill in the Lords must happen at this stage. It is likely that the social welfare provisions, including housing, will be debated from Monday 5 March onwards.

There is one single housing related amendment tabled, although there are others addressing social welfare more broadly. The amendment is at 75-77 of the marshalled list of amendments. The proposed amendment was drafted by Shelter with the support of Citizens Advice, Justice for All, the Law Society, the Law Centres Federation, Young Legal Aid Lawyers, the Legal Aid Practitioners Group, the Housing Law Practitioners Association, the Bar Council, the Advice Services Alliance and the Salvation Army.

As drafted., LASPO would mean that benefits work would be out of scope even when involved in defending possession proceedings, thus making a successful resolution of many rent arrears or mortgage possession cases virtually impossible.

This amendment would ensure that, where the loss of the home is threatened due to nonpayment of the rent or mortgage, advice and casework can be provided to address an underlying benefit problem causing or contributing to the arrears.

The full proposed amendment and briefing can be downloaded here.

If you are signed up to the Justice for All "pair up with a peer" scheme please write to them now to ask them to support the HB (and other) amendments. If you're not with the scheme please contact Lib Dem or cross bench peers to explain why this amendment is so important- you can find out a list of the peers and their parties via this link (select search options as party and group - then search for
lib dem or crossbenchers):

http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/lords/

Please send the Shelter briefing document with any communication with peers.

Posted in FLW article, Housing law - All and tagged , , , .

About Giles Peaker

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts, and still is Nearly Legal on Google +

7 Comments

  1. The debate (and possibly vote) on this will come up after 3pm on Monday 12th March when the Report Stage in the Lords re-commences (having last Wednesday got to amendment no 73).
    Also at 77 are the amendments regarding Gypsies and Travellers, especially 77A to D which seek to bring defences in the county court re unauthorised encampments back into scope (where you have to take a challenge on public law grounds according to Doherty v Birmingham).
    6 government defeats so far so here’s hoping for more tomorrow.

  2. Well that could have gone better…

    Amendment not taken to a vote due to the lateness of the hour on 12/03/2012. So unless the Govt changes its position (and they were arguing legal aid could be used to get an adjournment to allow benefit issues to be sorted out by some unspecified other agency) the amendement won’t be in the bill as it leaves the Lords.

  3. and the lib dems appear to have been stiffened somehow and saved the government further embarassment. we should be grateful for lord pannick doing what he could. not as if he really knows much about the law though, is it? ken clarke is obviously in a far better position to understand the impact of the scything away of legal aid.

    was the amendment filibustered out do you know? does that happen in the lords or is it the sort of scurvy tactic reserved for the house of plebs?

    • The amendment on HB was pushed to later in the day to an earlier Bill. Two earlier divisions on the immigration and debt amendments were won by the Government who seemed to have finally mustered their forces (after six previous defeats in the earlier Report Stages sessions).As it got into the evening the chamber began to thin out. It seems a decision was then taken that there was no point in pushing further divisions due to the inevitability by then of defeats. The same fate befell the amendments relating to Gyspies and Travellers which followed the HB amendment.All due credit to Lord Bach on the Labour frontbench for plugging away until the bitter (and very late) end.
      And of course I have to say thanks to our personal own heros in Gypsy and Traveller land, Lord Avebury and baroness Whitaker.

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