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Homeless children – new guidance

By J

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families have issued new guidance to local housing authorities and local social services authorities on housing obligations owed to 16 and 17 year olds.

The guidance is, mostly, explaining and endorsing the effect of R (G) v LB Southwark [2009] UKHL 26 (see our note here). Amongst other points, it stresses that, if a child qualifies under s.20, Children Act 1989, they should be accommodated under that section and not under s.17, 1989 Act or Part 7, Housing Act 1996.

It also sets out the correct approaches to be taken, depending on whether the application for assistance is made to a unitary authority (i.e. a London borough council or, say, Birmingham / Manchester etc); most of this (protocols for joint working, etc) shouldn’t come as a surprise to either authorities or lawyers for applicants, but it’s always helpful to have the position re-stated. The guidance also makes clear that B&B should never be used as temporary accommodation for 16 and 17 year olds.

The guidance is available here and, by virtue of s.182, Housing Act 1996 and s.7, Local Authority Social Services Act 1970, has statutory force.

J is a barrister. He considers housing law to be the single greatest kind of law known to humankind and finds it very odd that so few people share this view.


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