27/06/2020

News bits – homelessness policies

A couple of news items, both relating to homelessness policies.

First, following a judicial review challenge, LB Lambeth has agreed to end its ‘Temp2Settled’ Scheme. Under this scheme, since 2014, homeless applicants were promised higher priority on the council’s housing allocation scheme – Band B rather than C, if they agreed to give up their homelessness application and moved into offered private sector accommodation.

What was not explained to the homeless families was that if the PRS accommodation was outside the borough, then they would lose their right to be on the Lambeth housing register after two years, as they would be classed as no longer having a local connection. The average waiting time for social housing for someone on Band B is over 5 years.

Further, unlike ‘private sector discharge’ of a homeless duty, there was no requirement for the PRS properties to be suitable and no checks made of their standard.

A number of former homeless applicants who had been on this scheme brought a judicial review claim, represented by Public Interest Law Centre. But before the claim was heard

Lambeth agreed to amend its policy and reinstate the four families to its housing register with immediate effect. Applicants who opted for the Scheme (only to be placed in private rented accommodation outside of the borough and removed from the housing register after two years) are also to be reinstated. 

As the scheme appears to have simply put people in insecure and often unsuitable private rented property, with all the insecurity that resulted, while effectively depriving homeless applicants of their Part VII and indeed Part VI rights, the end of this version of homelessness prevention will not be lamented.

Second, to mark Armed Forces Day, Housing and Defence ministers announced ‘new measures’ to ensure access to social housing is improved for Members of the Armed Forces, Veterans, and their families.

MHCLG Announcement

However, going through the announcement proper, it appears that these ‘measures’ are limited to a new statutory code of guidance, which in itself contains nothing new but puts various bits of other previous guidances into one place. So it appears that the new measures amount to saying exactly the same thing only a bit louder. If I have missed anything that is new, do let me know.

 

 

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.

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