Issue 90 - 31st March 2008

Monday 31 March 2008

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The Last Week in Housing Law

On 28 March 2008 the Government published Statutory Homelessness in England: The Experience of Families and 16-17 Year Olds - Homelessness Research Summary Number 7, 2008. The summary presents the findings of a major survey of homeless families and 16-17 year olds. The survey investigated the characteristics of homeless households, the causes of their homelessness, their experience of living in temporary accommodation, and the impacts of the homelessness process on their health, welfare and well-being. For a copy of the paper click here

On the same day the Government set out its latest thinking on choice based lettings with publication of Fund for the Development of Regional and Sub-regional Choice Based Lettings Schemes - Guidance and Instructions for submitting a proposal. The purpose of the Regional Choice Fund is to support social landlords who are keen to work together to create sub-regional and/or regional CBL schemes. For a copy of the document click here

On 27 March 2008 the Local Government Ombudsman and Parliamentary Ombudsman published a joint report Injustice in Residential Care: Investigations into Complaints against Buckinghamshire County Council and against Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Mental Health Partnership. Parents complained about the care their son, who needed one-to-one attention for about 95 per cent of his waking time, had received while he was living for two years in a residential care home run jointly by a County Council and a Health Trust. The care home had not provided him with appropriate care in an environment conducive to his development. There had been fault by both the Council and the Health Trust which caused adverse effects for the son and his family including acute anxiety and distress and some financial loss. The Ombudsmen recommended that the Council and the Health Trust pay £32,000 compensation. For a copy of the report click here

On 20 March 2008 the Chartered Institute of Housing published Modernising Housing Advice. The report looks at how more people can be helped through housing advice to realise their long term housing aspirations whether in the private sector or in affordable housing. The report makes the case for a new approach, suggesting that while individual's housing options have grown, the majority of housing advice services remain based on a broad welfare model and narrowly focused on people in acute housing need. For a copy of the report click here

On the same day the Government published Expanding Choice, Addressing Need. This document outlines a new approach to the provision of housing advice in England. The "Enhanced Housing Options Approach" that it articulates takes as its core values the principles of choice, empowerment, and excellent customer service. Advisers using this approach provide customers with personalised housing options advice, working in partnership with supporting services - such as providers of employment and benefits advice - to tackle the causes of housing need. The document also contains details of two Pathfinder programmes, and invites bids from interested local authorities. For a copy click here

Also on 20 March 2008 the Housing Corporation announced publication of The public value of social housing: a longitudinal analysis of the relationship between housing and life chances. This research study looks at the life chances of people living in social housing from the Second World War up to the present day. It provides an overview of the extent to which, since the inception of the welfare state, housing policy has delivered on its objectives and contributed to those of wider social policy. For a copy of the report click here

On 19 March 2008 the latest figures for waiting lists for social housing in England were published. They show that the numbers waiting have increased from 1,062,180 in 1996 to 1,674,420 in 2007. The headline figures are given in an answer to a Parliamentary Question (Hansard 19 Mar 2008: Column 1199W).The figures for every individual local authority in England are available by clicking here

Last Week's Cases

The Court of Appeal and the High Court were on vacation last week.

This Week

Monday 31 March 2008 Housing Bill. House of Commons Third Reading. For details of the amendments put down for debate - including a new government clause abolishing the "tolerated trespasser" concept - click here

Wednesday 2 April 2008 Criminal Justice & Immigration Bill. House of Lords Report stage. Part 8 of the Bill deals with new "Premises Closure Orders". For the latest version of the Bill click here

Next Month

28 April 2008. Defending Possession Proceedings. A LAG training course in London. For details click here

Editorial Note: this is the last issue of Housing Law Bulletin to have been produced under contract with the Legal Services Commission. We are grateful to the Commission for funding the first 90 issues of the Bulletin. From next week, the Bulletin will be independently funded by Garden Court Chambers and provided free of charge to subscribers

Author: Jan Luba QC

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