Thursday, 23 April 2009

Something is seriously amiss!

I noticed today when I accessed my work emails that we were sent the last quarters (October - December 2008) P1e returns, for those who are unaware of what the P1e's are, they are the returns that Local Authorities supply to central government in respect of homelessness applications. Now I'm really really certain that The Court of Appeal was very lucid in respect of "homeless at home" in Birmingham City Council v Aweys & Ors [2008] EWCA Civ 48. So imagine my surprise to see upon in the P1es the column listing those people who have had a duty accepted to them but are "Homeless at Home" awaiting accommodation, 6,070!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now bearing in mind there are 67,480 accepted cases in temporary accommodation this means there are nearly 10% of all accepted cases are "Homeless at Home".

Furthermore I noticed that in England 26,350 decisions were made in total, but having then deducted the not homeless decisions, the non-priority decisions and the intentionally homeless decisions the full housing duty was accepted in 12,070 cases but there is no mention in the returns of any decisions where applicants were found not to be eligible. Does anyone have any idea what happened to these decisions? Did they slip down the back of the filing cabinet?

So according to the statistics 12,070 cases had the full housing duty accepted in the quarter, but 6,070 are listed as "Homeless at Home"! I going mad?

As I had a day off today I've been wasting my day online off and on. I came across a blog on this site about a homeless family who have a full housing duty accepted to them by their Local Authority, but was astounded to read this:

The Council have just written to us to inform us that they agree we are homeless and we now have 3 months before we can bid on a Council House.When you start bidding you can bid on 2 properties, twice a month for two months and if you are not awarded a property during this period you are allocated one by the Council, you have no choice, which could be anywhere in the Epping Forest.

I asked the author of the blog if they had been advised of the reason for the 3 month delay and was stunned when I received the following in reply "Thank you for your question. We asked the same question at the time and were told it was to allow smoothly running of the system as they don't have a great amount of house stock in the area.
So, once you are in the Shelter you technically have a roof over your head and therefore you can wait 3 months before going into band 1."

Seems that the Local Authority is using their waiting list to try to force people into other housing options in my opinion

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Two sides of the coin?

I came across this story online today. A family have been offered temporary accommodation by the London Borough of Barnet, which is a flat on the 9th floor of a tower block. The applicant, Mrs Poojara, has stated that the offer is unsuitable as her children are scared of heights following a friend of theirs who died after falling from a tall building. The council has said the offer is suitable having considered the information available to them.
The part of the story that caught my attention was that the family GP had written in support of the family. I appreciate that GP's try to help their patients but unless there is a medical condition then it is merely their opinion. I have lost count of the times that suddenly an applicant states that they suffer from vertigo when they have been offered high rise accommodation.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009


Well I thought I'd mention gatekeeping as I noted that Mr Flack had mentioned it in a comment on this blog today. For those of you who are unclear what I we mean when we say "gatekeeping", I quote from the Shelter website who sum it up in a nutshell, "Gatekeeping is the name generally given where a council refuses to accept a homelessness application and/or provide interim accommodation where they have a duty to do so."
Whilst every council I know will deny that they gatekeep, in my experience all councils gatekeep to keep their homelessness applications down. This gatekeeping approach has always existed to a certain extent since I have worked in homelessness, but has now grown to be the norm in all cases rather than the odd case. The law is being broken on a daily basis across the country and unless you are an applicant who is aware of what the legislation says or have sought independent advice you will be a victim of this!

I was going to give examples of where I have personal knowledge of this, but whilst drafting this post I came across a number of articles online from the past few years and somehow think that you, dear reader, will be able to look through them and decide if a blind eye is being turned to this issue by government rather than having me tell you my view of it. I've placed the links below in a roughly chronological order:

13th June 2005 BBC website report on the falling homelessness figures and SHELTERS comments on them

12th April 2006 Letter from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, who then gad the responsibility for housing matters, to all Local Authorities regarding "Gatekeeping" and comment from Homelessness Link on the letter

31st August 2008 Article in the Observer newspaper

22th March 2009 Inside Housing reports on the fall on on homelessness applications

So who thinks that Gatekeeping is going on?

Monday, 13 April 2009

Too much chocolate

has had me surfing the internet on on hyperdrive. I note that the issues about the Local Housing Allowance, that many of us have seen coming, are starting to raise concerns according to a article on the BBC website. Many clients that I have seen want the rent paid direct to the landlord, but of course they can't. Also Inside Housing has a similar article, how landlords are stopping renting to those on benefit due to LHA.
Again another piece of government action that hasn't been thought through and doesn't help clients.
No doubt I'll start seeing cases where clients are evicted as they have spent the rent money

And just to add a further thing to say this legislation is not well thought out read this story, about a man who will have to move out of the room he has lived in for 6 years because LHA doesn't cover the rent of his room but he can have a one bedroom flat at a rent up to £640!

Friday, 10 April 2009

Angry enough to spit here!

I came across this article today about a homelessness officer in Wandsworth who has been suspended in relation to a complaint made against him in respect of a client.

Its alleged that he told a terminally ill woman that doctors didn't know everything and that she should put her faith in God during a religious rant he submitted her to.

Whilst I respect everyones right to hold a religious belief, its beyond the pale to me that a client in this womans position was told this by the officer. Whilst I'm a member of a union, all I can say to Wandsworth management is good on you for suspending the officer. Religion does not have any place when dealing with clients

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Psst..........want a cheap reasonable preference?

Just wondered about prevention cases where they have been accommodated via a "Housing Option" into the private sector and as part of the deal are given "Reasonable Preference" under Part VI of the Housing Act. It just seems unfair to me that these clients are being given reasonable preference as bribe to prevent them making homelessness applications and will end up disadvantaging those people on the housing lists who may be in genuine need but will be quietly ignored and made to wait forever