Discretionary power to accommodate - letter for housing authorities

20.03.2020

I've uploaded a template letter to the Resources section that councils can use when offering temporary accommodation to people because of the Coronavirus crisis.

Coronavirus COVID-19 illustration

Councils are taking action to reduce transmission of the coronavirus. This includes arranging accommodation for rough sleepers and those at risk of rough sleeping, to help reduce social contact. Emergency funding for this purpose was recently announced.

Councils have a general power to take action for the benefit of persons in their area, under section 1 of the Localism Act 2011 (LGA 2000, s.2 in Wales).

This enables accommodation to be provided, even for those who are not vulnerable or don't otherwise have a priority need for accommodation - i.e. don't qualify for temporary accommodation - under the homelessness legislation (Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996).

Councils should be aware of this power, and will be aware the Government has confirmed they will be reimbursed the cost of accommodating rough sleepers.

Letter for download

I've uploaded template letters councils can use when offering accommodation under this discretionary power. The version to use depends on whether you're in:

Clearly, if you are a council decision-maker and accept that there's reason to believe the applicant may be homeless and may have a priority need, such that the usual interim accommodation duty applies, this is not the appropriate letter (see this index for other letters).

The most important consideration of course is to get people into accommodation and support their efforts to remain well and reduce transmission.

Accessing the letter

If you don't already have an account, you'll need to create a free account with your work email address, and wait for me to approve your LA/RP/RSL status.

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