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