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By Dave
18/04/2011

Let’s all move to … Wales*

Forgive the slight delay in picking this up, but the Welsh Assembly has issued a consultation on a new Code of Guidance on allocations and homelessness (closing date 30.06.2011; comments to Affordablehousing.actionteam@wales.gsi.gov.uk or by post).  By any stretch, this 271 page document is a real achievement because (a) it refers where necessary to relevant case law, other guidance and research reports, from which it seeks to learn (genuinely) (b) does what CLG has singularly failed to do and updated its Code in its entirety, including (for example) reference to the proper places for eligibility enquiries, and (c) provides really quite helpful advice to housing officers and applicants in a humane way.  I was particularly struck, amongst other matters, by the approach to eligibility for allocations as a result of ASB and the difficult balance it attempts to strike between the housing options model and gatekeeping.  The former is dealt with sensitively and at length, and interpolates between the really difficult provisions in the 1996 Act and Welsh Assembly policy, as well as just plain fairness (paras 3.17 et seq).  It also sets out the right to review (s 167(4A)(d)) and what should be done by way of compliance as a matter of fairness – it seems to be a matter of some indifference in England and the failure to make regulations regarding this right is anomalous at best.  As regards housing options/gatekeeping, the lengthy ch 10 deals with the housing options model and there must be a concern that this will result in gatekeeping, particularly when combined with the single para on applications where it is stressed that “Authorities must not avoid their obligations under Part 7 (especially the duty to make inquiries under s.184), but it is open to them to suggest alternative solutions in cases of potential homelessness where these would be appropriate and acceptable to the applicant” (para 12.6, original emphasis).

A sensible consultation, a sensible closing date, and genuine openness – we English can only dream.

*This post continues our similarly styled, occasional foray into Welsh affairs.

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