Allocating social housing – Government guidance falls short

Wednesday 21 March 2012

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Garden Court Chambers Housing Team has responded to the Government's consultation on the Draft Code of Guidance for the Allocation of Social Housing. Our housing barristers conclude that the draft guidance falls well short of providing the real help local authorities need to get the process right. We call for more detailed and practical guidance, so that there is clarity for councils drawing up their allocation schemes, and for applicants for social housing who want to know how their application will be dealt with.

The Government's draft guidance to councils in England - about how to allocate their available social rented homes - falls well short of providing the real help local authorities need to get the process right.

That is the verdict of a leading team of London housing lawyers in their response, published today, to the Draft Code of Guidance issued for consultation earlier this year by the Communities and Local Government Department.

One of the authors, housing specialist Jan Luba QC, said:

"It is vital that councils get all the help they can in the complex task of re-designing their schemes for distributing available social housing while staying within the law. The Localism Act of last year has fundamentally moved the goalposts and councillors and officers need to know how best they can give effect to the changes. Our experience suggests there is a real need for detailed, constructive guidance from Government but this draft Code leaves a great deal to be desired. In its current form it represents a wasted opportunity".

Today's response from the Housing Team at Garden Court Chambers calls for more detailed and practical guidance to be given in the Code on such crucial issues as:

  • When the reforms are being brought into force
  • Identifying who can and cannot qualify for housing
  • Dealing with transfer cases
  • Avoiding discrimination and promoting equality
  • Drawing-up lawful allocation schemes for new 'affordable' and 'flexible' tenancies
  • Resolving disputes about applications
  • Working out which applicants fail the eligibility tests because of their immigration/nationality status

and also suggests numerous minor and technical changes.

Co-author Liz Davies added:

"We hope our response will encourage others to take a hard look at the draft of this essential guidance and to put in their responses before the deadline of 30 March 2012. The present draft could be vastly improved for the benefit of both councils and applicants if our proposed modifications are adopted."

Click here to download the response in full.

For more details contact Jan Luba (020 7993 7794) or Liz Davies (020 7993 7600)

The response was written by Jan Luba QC, Liz Davies and Tim Baldwin on behalf of the Housing Team.

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