Government & Legislation: The Last Week
On 18 June 2007 the Legal Services Commission issued a consultation paper on proposals for a reformed Specialist Support Service which could continue for three years. The paper covers Supplier Support Services, which have two elements: 'Specialist Support', which enables eligible organisations to consult experts in civil categories of law (including housing); and 'Community Legal Service Grants', a funding stream that is to be used flexibly to support the development of services. The consultation closes on 10 September 2007. For a copy of the paper click here
On 19 June 2007 the Government published Every Tenant Matters, the final report of Professor Martin Cave's review of Social Housing regulation. The recommendations include moving towards (1) a social housing tenancy with common core terms across the sector and (2) a single ombudsman service for social housing tenants. For a copy of the report click here Or, for an executive summary, click here
On the same day, the Government issued two consultation papers to take forward work on Professor Cave's recommendations. The first Tenant Empowerment - A consultation paper proposes (1) a new draft Statutory Instrument to simplify the Right to Manage regulations for local authority tenants; (2) further promotion of a voluntary Tenant Management process for all social housing tenants and landlords; (3) establishment a National Tenant Voice; and (4) to increase "tenant voice" in stock transfers. For a copy click here
The consultation ends on 11 September 2007. The second paper, Delivering Housing and Regeneration: Communities England and the future of social housing regulation, invites views on the Government's proposals for the future system of regulating social housing providers. For a copy click here. The consultation ends on 10 September 2007.
On 21 June 2007 the Government announced an intention to legislate "as soon as parliamentary time allows" to enable armed forces personnel to acquire local connection with areas in which they are stationed for the purposes of allocation of social housing in those areas. For the details click here
On 22 June 2007 the Government published its response to the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee's report of May 2007, Implementation of the Carter Review of Legal Aid. The response rejects the concerns of the committee and indicates that the Government intends to press on with its legal aid reforms on the previously announced timetable. For a copy of the response click here
Last Week's Cases
Crook v Birmingham CC  EWHC 1415 (Admin), 19 June 2007. The claimants had successfully brought claims for damages for housing disrepair against their council landlords and had been awarded their costs. They had been provided with legal services under Conditional Fee Agreements. The council claimed that the CFAs were invalid. Reasons for invalidity included failure to sufficiently set out the alternative possibility of applying for legal aid. A High Court master upheld the CFAs and the council appealed. A High Court Judge (sitting with specialist costs assessors) dismissed the appeal. The CFAs were valid and enforceable.
YL v Birmingham CC  UKHL 27, 20 June 2007. The claimant faced eviction from a care home in which she had been placed by the council under its community care functions and its duty in section 21 National Assistance Act 1948. She sought to evoke the protection provided by the right to respect for her home contained in Article 8 Schedule 1 Human Rights Act 1998. The care home denied that this could provide any defence as it was not a "public authority" within the meaning of section 6 of that Act. By a majority of 3:2 the House of Lords upheld the care home's contention. The majority judgments give guidance on the meaning of "public authority" under the Act. For the transcript click here
Abdullah v Westminster CC  All ER (D) 248 (Jun), 21 June 2007. This was an appeal against a reviewing officer's decision that accommodation allocated to the appellant under the homelessness provisions of Part 7 Housing Act 1996 was suitable. The Court of Appeal upheld the judge's dismissal of an appeal. The reviewing officer had sufficiently considered medical evidence that it would be advantageous for the appellant to have the support of family and friends close-by. The conclusion that she could cope in another area (where the council had offered accommodation) was not wrong in law on the available material.
05 July 2007: Housing Law - The Legal Update 2007. A training conference to be held in Leeds. For details click here
18 July 2007: Anti Social Behaviour An HLPA meeting in London. For details click here