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The good, the bad and the ugly.


In a week of depressing, worrying news on homelessness – of which more below – there were at least two bits of good news.

First, in Gureckis, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2017] EWHC 3298 (Admin) the Government’s policy of deporting rough sleeping EU citizens was found to be unlawful, discriminatory and in breach of EU regulations on right to reside. The Govt’s argument that rough sleeping meant the person was not ‘integrating’ was rejected, both as being not true and as ‘integration’ was not a requirement for the exercise of free movement rights.

Second, in a highly unusual (but highly merited) step, the Housing Law Practitioners Association announced an Outstanding Achievement award for John Gallagher, of Shelter.

Gallagher award

John will hate me saying this, because he is a man of great modesty, but this was extraordinarily well deserved. For many years, John has been a mainstay of housing law – author of books, trainer of solicitors and others, and a dedicated and very skilled practitioner. He has been completely selfless in his time and efforts for HLPA – above and beyond – and for many other people. John, saluté!

But that was the end of the good news.

The quarterly homelessness statistics for July to September 2017 were released. The headlines were a 6% rise from 14,390 to 15,290 on households where duty was accepted, a 2% rise over the last year. Over the year there was  6% rise in the numbers in temporary accommodation, with 1,110 households with children in B&B for more than 6 weeks – the legal limit – including 300 Grenfell households. In Q3 2010, this was 140 households. These are, of course, just the accepted households. Homelessness continues to rise, but the rise in figures in B&B over 6 weeks marks the utter crisis in rehousing.

And then the LGO released a special report on homelessness complaints (with 70% of complaints investigated upheld). This highlights those left in B&B and unsuitable accommodation, sometimes impacting on children’s health

We found the council had plenty of opportunity to secure suitable accommodation for Rebecca and her family before she became homeless, but failed to do so. The council also failed to consider medical evidence Rebecca submitted about her baby, which was from medical professionals involved in her baby’s care. Instead, it chose to rely on the opinion of someone who had never examined her baby, viewed his medical records or spoken to any professionals caring for him.

On balance, we found the living conditions were responsible for many, if not all of Rebecca’s baby’s admissions to hospital.

The Ombudsman also warned that

Homelessness is now a serious risk for working families with stable jobs who cannot find somewhere affordable to live after being evicted by private-sector landlords seeking higher rents

Nurses, taxi drivers, hospitality staff and council workers were amongst those who had complained to the LGO on homelessness issues.

It is all going wonderfully well….


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.


  1. angeangel

    While I was reading this I was also listening to the radio and a prayer request broke in a lady offered a hostel even further away from the children’s school it would be her sixth move since August now in temporary accommodation 18 months….she has 24 hours to accept this move one room for her and the children.more ugly stuff….happy Christmas

  2. D Norton

    Well done John Gallagher! I don’t think there’s a single Shelter worker who wouldn’t say it, but even so: A richly deserved award to someone whose knowledge of housing law is exceeded only by his approachability and dedication. (And willingness to humour his colleagues!)

    Other than that, yeah the stats are depressing as hell. Especially since a rise in accepted homeless applications is surely paired with a rise in unrecorded homelessness.



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