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.