Homeless bill loophole closed after pressure from social services directors

A potential loophole that may have forced councils to take the
children of intentionally homeless families into care was closed
last week by a clause added to the Homelessness Bill.

Speaking at the third reading of the bill in the House of Lords,
housing minister Lord Falconer said it was now council housing
departments responsibility to consider the housing needs of
intentionally homeless families with children. Previously local
authorities only had a statutory duty to meet the housing needs of
unintentionally homeless families with children.

He added that housing departments must also inform social
services when dealing with homeless families with children.

Lord Falconer said: “It is essential that when dealing with
homeless families with children there is positive co-operation
between housing and social services departments, and that there are
joint protocols in place to ensure that this is carried into

Mike Leadbetter, president of the Association of Directors of
Social Services, w said the association had worked with the housing
minister to have the clause added to the bill.

He said: “We were worried that the clause was going to be
clumsily or inappropriately worded. It could have opened the door
to housing saying the children of intentionally homeless families
were not their responsibility, but social services under the
Children Act.”

Leadbetter added that the change in responsibility would help
improve social services relationship with housing.

The bill is expected to receive royal assent in February.





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