This document sets out the Council’s policy for how homeless households will be prioritised for temporary accommodation (TA) when there is no TA available within:
- The local authority boundary (‘in-area’)
- A specific area within the local authority boundary that an applicant would prefer to be placed to facilitate access to schools, place of work, family or other reasons.
The policy applies to all households placed in TA by the Council under section 188 (duty to secure interim accommodation) and section 193(2) (the main homelessness duty) arising out of the Housing Act 1996.
It also applies to any accommodation:
- secured to meet any duty owed to an intentionally homeless household (section 190(2))
- secured to meet any interim accommodation duty pending the outcome of a local connection referral to another local authority (section 199A)
This policy will also apply where the Council decides, as set out in section 205(3), to discharge the section 189B relief duty by securing that accommodation is made available under section 188.
This policy will also apply to final private rented sector offers made to bring either the section 189B(2) or section 193(2) duty to an end.
This document should be read in conjunction with the Council’s most recent Homelessness Strategy, as this sets out how the Council is seeking to prevent more people from losing their existing homes and develop more local temporary and permanent accommodation options to meet demand for households owed any duty under Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 as amended by the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.
This placement policy is compliant with the advice set by the Supreme Court in April 2015 for the case of Nzolameso v Westminster Council.
This placement policy seeks to ensure that all placements are made on the basis of:
- A comprehensive assessment of a household’s circumstances and needs, and
- A balanced assessment of the needs of all households requiring TA set against consideration of the type and location of accommodation that is available to be allocated at any given point
Our policy is to provide, wherever reasonably practicable, suitable accommodation within our local authority area and to consider a person’s links to any area within our district, except in cases where there is a specific reason why the household should not be accommodated within a district (for example, applicants at risk of domestic or other violence). However, our ability to meet this policy objective is subject to the supply of suitable TA being available.
The Council is making efforts to ensure that its TA portfolio enables applicants presenting as homeless to be placed within our area. We review our needs regularly and will consider developing new schemes to increase the number of units in parts of our area where the evidence indicates there may be a shortage of TA. However, we cannot always meet the requested location that an applicant presenting as homeless may wish to be temporarily housed in.
Where people would prefer not to access or reside in temporary accommodation, we will encourage and support them to source alternative accommodation in an area of their choice whilst maintaining the same banding on the social allocations register as if they were in homeless temporary accommodation.
The Housing Act 1996 section 208(1) states:
"So far as is reasonably practicable a local housing authority shall in discharging their housing functions under this Part secure that accommodation is available for the occupation of the applicant in their district."
The Council will seek to comply with section 208(1) and, where in-area accommodation is not reasonably practicable for all those in need of temporary accommodation, priority will be given to those in the greatest need to be accommodated in-area.
In assessing the suitability of the location of any property to be used as TA for a homeless household, the Council will consider whether the applicant can afford to pay for their TA without being deprived of basic essentials such as food, clothing, heating, transport costs and all other reasonable expenditure. We will therefore take into account the rent that the household can afford as well as any additional costs, such as travel costs, resulting from the location of the accommodation.
The Council will also consider any possible disruption to employment, education or caring responsibilities, accessibility of essential medical facilities and support that are essential to the wellbeing of any household member, and accessibility of local amenities, services and transport.
An assessment of these matters will be completed when an applicant is being matched to any available TA unit. A copy of the assessment tool we use can be requested.
Any decision regarding an allocation of TA will have regard to the Council’s obligations under Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 including the need to both safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
This policy fully complies with the requirements of:
- Sections 206, 208, and 210 of the Housing Act 1996 as amended by the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017
- The Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2012.
- The relevant sections of the MHCLG Allocations and Homelessness Codes of Guidance
- The MHCLG Supplementary Guidance on the homelessness changes in the Localism Act 2011.
- Advice from the Courts to local authorities regarding when temporary accommodation is suitable including the leading case of Nzolameso v Westminster Council.
- The Equality Act 2010
- The Domestic Abuse Act 2021
Applicants accommodated under this policy under section 189 and section 193 of the Housing Act 1996 can request a statutory review of the suitability of any accommodation offered to them, in accordance with section 202 of the Act.
Guidelines on the Location of Accommodation
For the purposes of making an allocation, all units of TA that may be offered to an applicant owed a TA duty will be categorised simply as:
- ‘Within the local authority area’, or
- ‘Outside of the local authority area’
The latter is defined as located ideally in a Greater Manchester authority and/or no more than 20 miles from Manchester city centre. However, where necessary, the Council will place people outside these limits.
Where there are insufficient units of TA in Manchester City Council’s geographical boundaries a suitable offer will be made outside our area.
The Council may keep aside in area units in anticipation of applicants presenting who meet the criteria for an in-area placement. This has been confirmed as a reasonable practice in the 2018 Court of Appeal case Adam and Alibkhiet v Westminster and Brent Councils.
How we will prioritise households for an offer of TA in our area where there are more applicants requiring an in area placement than properties available.
All households will be placed in accommodation within our area if a sufficient number of in-area units are available at the time of placement. Where there is a shortage of in-area units on any given day the Council may decide to keep aside a number of in-area units in anticipation of applicants presenting who meet the criteria for an in-area placement.
If there is not a sufficient number of in area units available, a household will be placed in a suitable unit outside our area, but as close to this local authority’s district as possible based on the practicality of sourcing units on any given day.
Relevant facts regarding the household’s circumstances will be gathered by officers in the course of their enquiries through completing an assessment of an applicant’s circumstances under section 189A of the Housing Act 1996.
Households will be given priority for a placement in-area if they meet set criteria. Please note this does not mean that they are guaranteed to receive an offer of in-area accommodation when any TA duty arises. It may be that at the time any TA duty is owed there are no vacancies in-area and, if this is the case, an offer of suitable TA will be made as close as possible, with priority given to any household that meets one or more of the criteria set out below. The local authority will continue to review such household’s situation (i.e. meeting the in-area placement criteria) so they may be given a suitable offer of TA in-area when it is reasonably practicable to do so.
The in-area placement criteria are:
Households with one child (or more) in secondary school in their final year of Key Stage 4 (generally Year 11) with exams to be taken within the next six months. Wherever practicable we will seek to place such households in-area and as close as possible to existing schools to minimise public transport travelling distance and costs.
Households with one child (or more) who has a Statement of Special Educational Needs who is receiving education or educational support in our area and where a change of schools would be extremely detrimental to their well-being because of either the impact of moving on that child or that a similar package of support is unlikely to be available. Wherever practicable we will seek to place such households in-area and as close as possible to existing schools to minimise public transport travelling distance and costs.
Households that contain a child where there is current involvement from Children’s Services and where an out-of-area placement would be detrimental to their well-being. Wherever practical we will seek to place such households in-area.
Households with a member with significant medical or severe learning disability where a child attends a special school. Wherever practicable we will seek to place such households in-area and as close as possible to existing schools to minimise public transport travelling distance and costs.
Households where one person (or more) has a severe and enduring mental health problem where they are receiving psychiatric treatment and aftercare provided by community mental health services and have an established support network in area so that a placement outside of this area may severely impact on their wellbeing.
Households where one person (or more) is in permanent and settled employment in-area. This group will be prioritised for temporary accommodation as close as possible to their workplace. Where this is not possible we will endeavour to place a household no more than 120 minutes by public transport away from their place of employment and will work with them to help them source suitable accommodation closer to their place of work.
Households who have a longstanding arrangement to provide care and support to another family member in-area, and that person would be likely to require statutory health and social care support if that care and support ceased and there are no other relatives willing and able to provide that care and no other suitable alternative arrangements available.
Households where the female is single, pregnant and has no other children. Wherever practical we will endeavour to place them in-area for continuation of midwifery services.
Please note the following:
The above categories do not mean that no other special circumstances will be taken into account. Whenever an applicant is owed an interim or full TA duty an assessment will be carried out of their household’s housing needs and circumstances. Following that assessment it may be decided that an applicant should qualify for an in-area offer for a special reason despite not meeting the criteria set.
Where there are no in-area TA units immediately available which meet the household’s identified needs, a homeless household may be placed on an emergency basis into accommodation in any location where there is availability on that day as long as it has been assessed as being suitable.
Households in receipt of welfare benefits or who may be on a low income may be subject to restrictions on the amount of benefit they can receive, which may affect their ability to pay their TA rent. Placement in area is subject to suitable accommodation being available that the applicant can afford.
Given the shortage of available properties, it may be necessary to make a decision regarding how to prioritise the allocation of a particular property on a particular day where more than one household requires TA and more than one household meets the in-area criteria set out above. The following circumstances will be taken into account when prioritising between households. Please note the circumstances listed are not in descending order of importance and do not form an exclusive set of criteria as other factors may also be relevant:
Level of need relating to the welfare and safeguarding of any children in the household:
- Level of educational need
- Identified risks posed by living in particular areas
- Permanency/flexibility of employment
- Access to transport
- Level of need to be close to services and amenities
- Level of need to be close to health services
- Level of need to be close to support networks
- Level of need to be close to cultural or religious amenities
- Impact on caring responsibilities
- Affordability of the accommodation
- Impact of the relocation, and of occupying the accommodation on a continuing basis, on the well-being of household members
- Impact of the relocation, and of occupying the accommodation on a continuing basis, on the well-being of any children in the household, having regard to the Council’s duty under the Children Act 2004 to safeguard and promote their well-being
The impact of these and any other relevant circumstances will be considered both individually and cumulatively.
This Temporary Accommodation Out of Area Placement Policy has been Adopted by Full Council on 7 October 2020. It was reviewed in January 2023.
Review date: January 2025
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