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Homelessness - a ruling that could change how councils assess

Posted by
15 Jul 2015
In 2012, we saw significant changes made to homelessness law in England and Wales within the Localism Act 2011. The changes fundamentally put the duty on local authorities nationwide to prevent homelessness. Each authority was required to consider the housing needs of those in their catchment area to which local authorities have a duty to prevent homelessness. The duty was to thus secure accommodation for the homeless and offer suitable accommodation in the private rented sector. It is the local authorities' duty to ensure the accommodation is acceptable.

A new ruling on a case with Southwark council deemed housing officers within local authorities must adopt a new approach following a Supreme Court judgement. It was called on that local authorities were wrongly assessing the needs of those named 'street homeless' even though there is no definite description in the current legislation. The ruling highlighted that councils were wrongly assessing someone's vulnerability by comparing them with a 'normal street homeless person'. The revelation of this court ruling now states that such persons should be compared to normal people in society over those that are already homeless.

The Local Government Association highlighted that councils are under severe pressure with budget restraints and shortage of housing. This with the increasing amount of homeless people being provided with accommodation for those that need support. Councils are currently targeting to build affordable homes to house such people and budgets should be allowing to do so.

This ruling has had a serious impact on the locum market as councils are hiring locum lawyers to assist with the demand of homelessness cases - very interesting ruling but it is clear that more funding needs to be put into local authorities so councils can meet the needs of the people they are aiming to support.

I would be interested to hear your view. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below...

Tagged In: Events, Legal, Market trends
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