Section: Homelessness & Rough Sleeping

Court of Appeal finds failings in assessing a homelessness case of a man at risk of self-harming

Posted 23.10.19
Osbornes Law: Further reading

The Court of Appeal has quashed a council decision that said a young man (Mr G) with mental health problems and at risk of self-harming and suicide was not in priority need for housing when facing homelessness.

The court heard how Mr G faced homelessness when eviction proceedings were brought against his mother. He applied as homeless to Lambeth, which provided emergency accommodation pending a decision.

Originally, the council said Mr G was homeless and eligible for assistance, but not in priority need for accommodation because he was "not significantly more vulnerable when compared to an ordinary person when homeless".

This decision, the court heard, was upheld on review by RMG Limited, to which Lambeth outsources such cases.

The Court of Appeal found that the RMG review officer failed to explain why she had disregarded evidence from a distinguished consultant psychiatrist that Mr G's symptoms would be at risk of worsening if he were made homeless, and he would particularly "be at risk for command hallucinations, demanding that he self-harm and/or hang himself".

London law firm Osbornes Law, who acted for Mr G, said "the case throws the spotlight on the London Borough of Lambeth and other councils outsourcing decision-making and medical opinions relating to homelessness".

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Mayor doubles budget to help London's rough sleepers

Posted 22.10.19
Mayor of London: Further reading

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has more than doubled his rough sleeping budget to £19.2 million to help more homeless Londoners than ever off the streets.

Last year, 8,855 people were seen sleeping rough on the streets of London by outreach workers - more than double the number in 2010/11.

The £19.2m funding will be used to support and expand the Mayor's Life Off The Streets programme - made up of shelters, outreach teams and support services working across London to help rough sleepers.

During 2018/19, the Mayor's No Second Night Out service - helping those who are seen sleeping rough for the first time - worked with more than 1600 people, of which 79% were not seen rough sleeping again that year.

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Loopholes in homelessness legislation mean the most vulnerable can be denied help

Posted 21.10.19
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism: Further reading

An article based on research by the Bureau has concluded that more than 32,000 homeless families in England and Wales have been abandoned by councils since 2015 because they missed at least one step in a rigid process for getting help.

Leading campaigners worry vulnerable people are being left on the streets because of things as minor as missing an email or an undelivered letter.

The Bureau has found that one specific clause in Welsh housing legislation has given cash-strapped councils the means to close thousands of cases for those with complex needs.

That loophole has now been brought into English law, with tens of thousands of families affected in a single year.

The article highlights the Housing (Wales) Act - which since its introduction in 2015, councils have closed more than 4,500 cases because the housing officer deemed the applicant "uncooperative". A further 5,000 cases were closed due to "loss of contact".

Once a case is closed, the only option is to restart the weeks-long process again from the beginning.

In England, in the first year after the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act, 22,000 households have been left without help because of "loss of contact".

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Mayor of London launches scheme to help rough sleepers with mental health needs

Posted 10.10.19
Mayor of London: Further reading

The Mayor of London has announced a new £2.35 million scheme to support people with mental health needs sleeping rough in the Capital.

Last year, half of all people sleeping rough in London were recorded as having mental health needs, but many do not have access to the specialist support and treatment they need.

This new two-year project will test how new collaborative ways of working can provide targeted support and help people leave the streets for good.

Dedicated teams of mental health practitioners will join outreach workers on the streets. The teams could also include specialist input from a psychologist, psychiatrist or a peer support worker.

People sleeping rough will be provided with flexible, accessible mental health support - which better understands their needs and ensures they receive the appropriate assessment and treatment.

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Reporting on October 2019

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