Vulnerability insert for adverse priority need decisions
Text that can be adapted and inserted into a notification letter, when deciding a homeless applicant is not vulnerable and so does not have a priority need.
This document provides a framework for developing reasons when deciding that an applicant is not vulnerable, in circumstances where the duties under the Equality Act 2010 may be relevant.
The texts shows how written reasons may be structured, so as to incorporate issues such as:
- Whether the applicant has a disability or protected characteristic.
- If so, the issues that must be considered, in light of the various equality duties.
- Reasons why the applicant is not vulnerable.
- This document is an example and for illustrative purposes only. Reasons must be drafted so they address the particular matters arising in the specific case. A standardised passage of text is no substitute for drafting bespoke reasons dealing with the substantive issues that arise in the case at hand.
- You may wish to abridge the text. For example, there is no obligation to confirm what 'vulnerable' or 'significantly more vulnerable' means (Rother BC v Freeman-Roach  EWCA Civ 368). On this basis you may prefer to delete or abridge the section "What does 'vulnerable' mean?" and use the section instead merely to remind yourself of some of the key principles arising from case law.
- In Hotak v Southwark LBC  UKSC 30, the Supreme Court held that the decision-maker must focus very sharply on (a) whether the applicant has a disability or another protected characteristic; (b) the extent of the disability; (c) the likely effect of the disability, when taken together with any other features, on the applicant if and when homeless, and (d) whether, as a result, the applicant was vulnerable. Accordingly the lawfulness of your decision is likely to depend on the extent to which your reasoning demonstrates the 'sharp focus' which is required, and your treatment of the particular facts (in the last section "Why has the Council decided that I do not have a priority need?").
- Stating that you've considered the equality duties is not the same as complying with the equality duties. See for example, in the context of whether accommodation is reasonable to continue to occupy, Lomax v Gosport BC  EWCA Civ 1846. Decision-makers need to be alert to giving mere lip-service to the equality duties.
User Social Landlord or Local Authority
Document Type Letter
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