Out of Area Placements of Homeless Households

9th August 2019

The East of England LGA recently conducted a survey focused on homelessness and housing within the region. Authorities that responded to the survey were invited to a Homelessness Network Meeting on the 23 July 2019 in Chelmsford.

The survey and meeting touched on a broad range of issues that are being faced throughout the East. A significant matter affecting some of the region is Out of Area Placements, in particular Out of Borough Placements from London. Results from the survey show that there are concerns within authorities that Section 208 notices are not being provided notifying councils that households are being placed. A Section 208 notice is the responsibility of the council placing the household and notifies the authority of important information about that household.  In 2016 every council in the region set up a generic email to ensure they receive this important notification.  The network discussed the impact of not receiving this information on new homeless households and shared experiences of where they were not able to prepare for and support families or individuals with support needs.  There was also concern that households can become more vulnerable once they move from their original home so the Section 208 can help prevent this.  Rod Cullen from Essex County Council gave a presentation on the current project being undertaken in Essex to help alleviate the impact of the placements on services as well as the residents.

The issues surrounding Section 208 notifications and the recently amended Homelessness Code of Guidance were addressed in a recent letter from Mrs Heather Wheeler MP, Minister for Housing and Homelessness to a local Chief Executive. Mrs Wheeler thanked Local authorities for the work being done to implement the Homelessness Reduction Act and reiterated the responsibility authorities have when placing outside of their area. Specifically noting that Section 208 notifications ‘apply to all placements made under homelessness legislation, and not just those made at the section 193, main duty’.

Also addressed in the letter is the Homelessness Code of Guidance, which further amendments have been made ‘following a high court judgement on the placing of applicants out of area, which confirmed that areas who undertake this practice must have a published policy setting out how decisions are made.’ For the full guide please follow this link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/homelessness-code-of-guidance-for-local-authorities

 

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