Non-cooperation procedure

04.06.2018

English councils need to adopt a procedure before they can use a new power to sanction homeless applicants on grounds of non-cooperation.

A photograph of a non-cooperation procedure

I've written a template procedure that managers can use to draft their own version. It's available now in the Resources section.

You may find it useful if you haven't yet had a chance to write a procedure but want your homeless team to be able to end homelessness duties because of non-cooperation.

I've attempted to write a procedure:

  • That's relatively simple.
  • Which concentrates on the procedural steps that officers are required to undertake (rather than, say, replicating the legislation or including loads of policy considerations).
  • That minimises the number of additional mandatory steps which must be taken before the power can be exercised (since your local housing solicitor will be looking to identify a failure to follow the procedure).

There are spaces for including procedural steps that are unique for your authority. For example:

  • Steps that need to be taken on your particular ICT software
  • How correspondence with the applicant should be saved.
  • Steps that should be taken if you're closing down a homelessness application (or continuing to accommodate under section 193C(4))
  • Action that must be taken in connection with a housing register application if the homelessness duty is discharged because of non-cooperation (assuming an applicant's priority for an allocation is affected).

Homeless managers will know that when an applicant has deliberately and unreasonably refused to take a mandatory step in their housing plan, a decision to end the prevention or relief duty must be authorised by another officer. This requirement must in turn be included in a written procedure (under Part 2 of The Homelessness (Review Procedure etc) Regulations 2018).

In case it might be useful I've also included a provision that a senior officer must approve the pre-discharge warning notice. It's up to you whether you want to retain this provision.

I've included this because quite a few team leaders have told me they want to be made aware of cases where the sanction is actively being considered. Typically such supervisors want to avoid overzealous staff being tempted to spend a lot of time drafting both warning and discharge notices where they're likely to fall at the last hurdle, i.e. where a proposed discharge won't be authorised when another officer comes to 'sign off' the decision.

You'll need to buy credits to access the procedure. Credits can purchased on your account page.

If you haven't already seen it I recently blogged about the non-cooperation sanction. The post included links to various letters that homeless officers can use (and which are free to download).

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