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11/05/2022

Suitable for the likes of you

Today (Weds 11 May) the Govt sneaked out The Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (Amendment) (England) Order 2022. This comes into effect on 1 June 2022 and is stated to expire on 1 June 2023

The regs amend The Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2003 to the following effect:

The definition of what is not classed as B&B is to include ‘accommodation that is provided in a private dwelling’.

For specified classes of people (see below), the restriction on B&B accommodation to 6 weeks is removed.

The Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2012 is amended to the following effect:

For specified classes of people (see below), the requirement for the location of accommodation to be taken into account in assessing suitablity of accommodation is disapplied, save that

“In determining whether accommodation is suitable for a person specified in paragraph (1), where the accommodation is situated outside the district of the local housing authority, the local housing authority must take into account the significance of any disruption which would be caused by the location of the accommodation to any caring responsibilities of the person or members of the person’s household for persons with whom there are family associations.”

The specified classes of people are:

Anyone who makes a homeless application and is eligible for assistance, and
i) that application is within 2 years beginning with the date on which they arrive in the United Kingdom, and
ii) did not have a right to occupy accommodation in the United Kingdom for an uninterrupted period of 6 months or more in the 3 years prior to the date on which they arrived in the United Kingdom.

As far as I can see, this will principally apply to Ukranian, Afghan and Hong Kong people arriving on the respective visa schemes.

I believe the exclusion of private residences from being considered to be B&Bs is aimed at the Homes for Ukraine scheme (although as that is not Housing Act 1996 Part VII accommodation, heaven knows why they thought it necessary).

The upshot is that Ukrainian, Afghan and Hong Kong refugees on the visa schemes who become homeless and apply to the local authority on or after 1 June 2022 can be left indefinitely in B&Bs (or at least for a year), or can be offered ‘suitable’ accommodation anywhere in the country, wherever they have been living (subject to caring responsibilities only).

Two questions spring to mind.

Why? Why do this? Have local authorities been overwhelmed already? Does the Govt have reason to believe that they will be overwhelmed?

And, pima facie, this would appear to be direct discrimination on grounds of nationality.

 

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.

8 Comments

  1. Sean Price

    Note that the expanded exception in the B&B definition does not expire on 1 June 2023 (unlike the other amendments).

    Could a commercial B&B where the owner lives on the premises be regarded as “accommodation provided in a private dwelling”? I assume (hope) this is not the intention.

    Reply
    • Giles Peaker

      HI Sean

      Yes, sorry – I thought I’d been clear on that. It will certainly be an area for argument, although I don’t think a commercial B&B could count as a private dwelling, wherever the residence of the owner.

      Reply
  2. Andrew Hansard

    Hard to see this as anything other than an extension of the hostile environment and as you say direct discrimination.

    Reply
  3. JS

    I don’t think it is aimed at Ukrainian, Afghan and Hong Kong refugees specifically, I think it is aimed at queue jumpers who arrive on boats. From my experience Local Councils are overloaded, as are the over spill Councils. “There is no room at the in but we have a barn you may use”. The Government are not proactive enough to have thought this up for themselves, it will have come from Councils with entitled and litigious applicants.

    Now before you start accusing me of being slightly to the right of Attila the Hun, my preferred solution would be to have all Consulates of the United Kingdom around the world enabled to process not only asylum seekers but economic migrants, We would meet our obligation to the first group in accordance with International law, for the second group we could operate a lottery system telling applicants to stay where they are but to update them every month where they are on the queue. The application for both should include provision of ID except in extreme circumstances and in all cases we should create our own bio-metric ID when they make the application. Any person found to have jumped the queue would NEVER be accepted on either scheme and be banned for life to enter the United Kingdom for any purpose ever.

    This is the only way we are going to put the people traffickers out of business. It would provide a legitimate route for applicants and give them hope.

    We could do as the USA, Australia and Canada do which is to specify each year what country and demographic we are seeking and that would be applied to both queues to prioritise applicants. We could advise applicants what experience is in most demand, care workers, hospital workers (at all levels) and whatever the private sector needs. We could use our consulates to facilitate local courses in English, basic IT and other education, applicants could also be sponsored by suitable employers.

    We would then need extremely strong legislation for those that queue jump arriving here in boats, I am sure we can pick up a couple of cruise liners from P&O on the cheap, we can take queue jumpers to a Rwanda or wherever.

    Reply
    • Giles Peaker

      It isn’t aimed at ‘queue jumpers’ as they aren’t eligible for Part VII assistance, at least not until an asylum application has been accepted and asylum granted, which on current Home Office time scales would be well after June 2023. Besides, the minister has written to local authorities making clear it is precisely about Ukraninians.

      The rest of what you say is, I’m afraid, irrelevant. Though I agree on having actual legal routes to apply for asylum, of which there currently none (so no ‘queue jumpers’ as there is no queue.)

      Reply
      • JS

        ‘queue jumpers’ as there is no queue.Spot on Giles as always

        Reply
  4. Sam Sung

    JS- interesting theory on taking ‘queue jumpers’ from the UK to landlocked Rwanda in a dangerously clapped out P+O ferry, does your concern for your fellow man extend to you volunteering as Captain?

    Reply
  5. TreborMyint

    The only use I can see for the exclusion of private homes from the definition of B&B’s is to allow LA’s to find another ‘Homes for Ukraine’ like placement for a family

    Reply

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