The effect of section VII of the Housing Act 1996 on single homeless people

Howgill, Jonathan (2008) The effect of section VII of the Housing Act 1996 on single homeless people. BSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Abstract

    Since 1997, approximately 250,000 homeless people per year have applied to local authorities to be housed. Current legislation, section VII of the Housing Act 1996 and the Homelessness Act 2002, has meant 50,000 homeless people per year are not legally entitled to this housing. On this premise the laws governing homelessness enacted between 1948 and 2002 have enabled an improvement in the treatment of the most vulnerable homeless people in our society. However, analysis of the interpretation of the legislation by authorities in Portsmouth from the city, borough and district councils revealed discrepancies and inconsistencies in the treatment and classification of homeless people. Each authority had difficulty interpreting the legislation and each was responsible for producing a review of homelessness and a strategic approach to housing homeless people. It is recommended clarification be made of the ways to interpret the act and the case law such that homeless people throughout the country are given equivalent care regardless of location, Local Authority type or availability of housing stock. Review of the ‘in priority need’ classification is also recommended. The application of this classification has meant continuing unacceptable levels of homelessness without assistance. The socio-economic conditions have changed since the 2002 Act and legislation no longer protects the growing number of vulnerable homeless people called ‘hidden homeless’ in our society. These hidden homeless may be greater in number than the Government estimate. Under the current economic climate these figures are set to rise due to increased house purchase costs and rental costs and a disproportionate increase in wages or salaries. As a consequence, young single people on an average salary find it impossible to purchase a home and many are unable to secure private rental due to the high cost of the rental deposit. Single homelessness is increasing. The treatment of these homeless varies from authority to authority and from council officer to council officer. Transfer of responsibility for building new social housing to Housing Associations has not improved the national stock and current levels are now the lowest for 45 years. Few one bedroom flats are available to rent, hostel accommodation is limited, and housing stock has reduced, therefore changes to the management of housing sock should be transferred from private housing associations to responsible government organisations. Hostels need to be built for immediate emergency accommodation of single homeless people. Planning laws should to be changed to increase housing stock with an appropriate emphasis on constructing one bedroom flats to accommodate single homeless people. The research has found that rent deposit schemes may be successful in preventing homelessness by assisting homeless people to secure accommodation in private sector housing. Given the current economic climate increased funding by Local Authorities is recommended to provide appropriate and full rent deposit schemes to single homeless applicants so accommodation can be accessed in the private rental sector. The above recommendations are made to reduce the negative impact of section VII of the Housing Act 1996, which has seen an estimated 50,000 people per annum live a homeless existence.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: ?? EDAM ??
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2011 12:49
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:16
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/940

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