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National Homeless Advice Service

Statutes and guidance

There are two main statutory provisions governing local authorities’ obligations to provide access to accommodation with support for young people who are homeless or are in transition from their parental home or local authority care to independent living.

These two acts are the Housing Act 1996 and the Children Act 1989.

Housing authorities

Housing Act 1996

The Housing Act 1996 contains the main provisions about the circumstances in which a person might be considered by a local authority to be homeless. It explains the operation of the homelessness rules and the specific duties, powers and general obligations on housing authorities and others towards people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities (2006)

This code provides statutory guidance on local housing authority housing and social services statutory functions in respect of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. It was issued by the Secretaries of State under section 182 of the Housing Act 1996 and, by law, local authorities must have regard to it when exercising their homelessness functions.

The Code sets out detailed guidance in respect of every aspect of the homelessness legislation, including things that should feature as part of a local authority homelessness strategy and the importance of having a strategy for the support of young people in transition from parental or local authority care. It also contains the definition of bed and breakfast accommodation against which local housing authorities have to report to DCLG.

Supplementary Guidance on the homelessness changes in the Localism Act 2011 and on the Homelessness (suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2012

This supplementary guidance explains the changes made to homelessness legislation by sections 148 and 149 of the Localism Act.

It explains in practice how the new power (which allows private rented sector offers to be made to end the main homelessness duty) should work and what local authorities should do as a consequence of the introduction of this new power.

Provision of accommodation for 16 and 17 year olds who may be homeless and/or require accommodation

This revised guidance for children’s services authorities and local housing authorities deals with duties under Part 3 of the Children Act 1989 and Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 to secure or provide accommodation for homeless 16 and 17 year old children, following the judgement by the House of Lords in the case of R(G) v London Borough of Southwark (2009). Of particular importance is paragraph 2.16, which makes clear that bed and breakfast accommodation is not considered suitable for 16 and 17 year olds, even on an emergency accommodation basis.

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Children’s Services authorities

Sufficiency: Statutory guidance on securing sufficient accommodation for looked after children

This statutory document seeks to improve outcomes for looked-after children and young people by providing guidance on the implementation of section 22G of the Children Act 1989 (the 1989 Act).

Section 22G requires local authorities to take steps that secure, so far as reasonably practicable, sufficient accommodation within the authority’s area which meets the needs of children that the local authority are looking after. It explains the ‘sufficiency duty’ - which requires that looked-after children be provided with accommodation that is in the local authority’s area if their circumstances are such that doing so would be consistent with their welfare.

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Joint guidance to housing and Children’s Services authorities

Provision of accommodation for 16 and 17 year olds who may be homeless and/or require accommodation

This statutory guidance was issued by DCLG and DSF in 2010, in response to the judgement by the House of Lords in the case of R(G) v London Borough of Southwark (2009).

This guidance make clear that local authorities should presume that any lone, homeless child should be provided with accommodation and under section 20 of the Children Act 1989, unless the child is not, in the local authority’s judgement (based on an initial screening assessment), a child ‘in need’.

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