New Statutory Guidance on Homelessness and Children
– Full coverage in the forthcoming 11th Edn of Homelessness and Allocations
– LAG/Arden Chambers Homelessness Conference to cover this topic and many others
Prevention of homelessness and provision of accommodation for 16 and 17 year old young people who may be homeless and/or require accommodation
MHCLG / DfE
The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Secretary of State for Education have issued joint guidance entitled Prevention of homelessness and provision of accommodation for 16 and 17 year old young people who may be homeless and/or require accommodation on functions relating to homelessness and children aged 16 and 17. It replaces the previous (2010) guidance. The guidance includes the following.
Supporting families to stay together
It is generally in the best interests of young people to live in the family home or, if not safe, with responsible adults within a wider family and friends’ network. Authorities “should explicitly recognise this and work pro-actively with young people and their families to identify and resolve the issues which had let to the homelessness crisis” (para.2.1) Any preventative work should not, however, “delay the provision of accommodation or performance of other statutory duties where these are owed” (para.2.3).
Children’s services duties
Where a 16 or 17 year old seeks help from the children’s services department, that department must carry out an assessment of what duties are owed under the Children Act 1989 (paras.3.1-3.12). Resort should only be made to the Housing Act 1996 if the child is not “in need” or if the child has reached a “properly and fully advised” decision that they do not want to be accommodated under the 1989 Act and the child is fully equipped to reach such a decision (para.3.13).
Duties on housing services
An approach to housing services for assistance with accommodation should be treated as an application under Part 7, Housing Act 1996 (para.4.1). The usual assessment process (s.184) should take place; if that reveals that the child is not eligible or is otherwise a “relevant child” under the 1989 Act then “immediate arrangements must be made for them to receive assistance from children’s services” (para.4.5).
Whether accommodation is provided by the children’s services department or the housing department, 16 and 17 year olds who are homeless and estranged from their family will be “particularly vulnerable and in need of support” (para.5.9). Young people should not be placed in “all-ages night shelter provision, even in an emergency” (para.5.12).
There should be written joint protocols which set clear and practical arrangements for the provision of services (para.6.6). The effectiveness and relevance of the protocols should be reviewed at least annually (para.6.10).
The guidance can be downloaded from the government website here.
These changes have been incorporated into the forthcoming 11th edn of of Homelessness and Allocations, (Andrew Arden QC, Justin Bates and Toby Vanhegan, Legal Action Group).
The 11th edn also covers the changes made by the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, most of which came into force on 3 April 2018. It includes the text of the 1996 Act as amended, the new English Homelessness Code of Guidance (as well as retaining the existing Code on Allocations) and the revised Local Authority Agreement on Local Connection Referrals.
As well as a new edition of the book, LAG and Arden Chambers are repeating their highly successful Homelessness and Allocations conference, on 15 June 2018 in London. As before, delegates to the conference will receive a copy of the book as part of their course materials.
To see the full conference programme and to book places, click here.
To pre-order a copy of the book, click here.