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8.3 Joint Assessment and Referral Procedure between Housing and Social Services Departments

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This Chapter relates to the joint assessment and referral procedure between Housing and Social Services departments

This protocol is concerned with the provision of accommodation for families under Section 17 of the Children Act, 1989 and the National Assistance Act 1948.


Contents

  1. Purpose
  2. Housing Department’s Assessment (Emergency Housing Unit)
  3. Social Services Assessment (Children and Family Team)


1. Purpose

The purpose of this protocol is to develop a joint working arrangement between the Housing Department and Social Services in respect of the Council’s approach to assisting families who have been deemed as either intentionally homeless or having no recourse to public funds.

As part of Emergency Housing Unit’s statutory function, these families are referred to Social Services Children & Families Teams for assistance.

Therefore Housing and Social Services need to work closely together to develop and agree protocols for joint working in assessing these families and jointly agree action plans in response to the outcome of the assessments. This will ensure the families are not excluded from services.

There are several points where Social Services assessments can be undertaken, although in theory, they can be requested at any time prior to, during or subsequent to the housing assessment. It is crucial that the assessments are seen in the context that Social Services Departments have no power to provide accommodation, and that families are aware of this.

Families need to be made aware early on in the housing review process that it is highly unlikely that Social Services will provide them with either monies or accommodation. Parents need to be informed of this in advance so that they can make informed decisions about how to exercise their responsibility to provide a home for their children.

The Homelessness Act 2002 recommends that there should be cooperation between Housing and Social Services departments where an applicant with minor children is found to be ineligible for assistance or intentionally homeless.

Below is an outline of the processes to be undertaken by both departments.


2. Housing Department’s Assessment (Emergency Housing Unit)

2.1 Families found ineligible for assistance and intentionally homeless from settled accommodation.

A. Completion of assessment by Housing

  • Housing Advice provided as part of the assessment. If the client is ineligible, it is more likely that a decision will be made on the day and no temporary accommodation is provided. However, if the client is likely to be found intentionally homeless, in most cases they would have already been provided with temporary accommodation. Once the decision is issued, a reasonable time, usually 28 days, is given to allow for the family to make their own arrangements or pursue the referral to social services.

B. Housing decision

  • This is made on the basis of the assessment under the Homelessness Act and any information provided by Social Services prior to the decision will be taken into account.

C. If the decision is that the family is intentionally homeless,

  • S184 decision letter will recommend a referral to Social Services for S17 assessment (if not previously completed), but should specify that unless there are exceptional circumstances (i.e. that child will suffer Significant Harm), it may be that no further support will be offered.
  • Referral form and copy of S184 decision, and covering letter faxed to Social Services Department (Children & Families Team)
  • The Right of Review Form informing the applicant of their right to request a review of the decision is given to applicant with the the S184 decision letter. The applicant is also given a copy of the EHU leaflet “how to appeal”, and the shelter leaflet on the appeal process.

2.2 Families to whom duty is discharged as a result of eviction from temporary accommodation provided by the Council.

A. This applies to applicants/families who are evicted as result of :

  • Anti-social behaviour;
  • Rent arrears.

In these instances, the Council can discharge duty as a result of finding them intentionally homeless. It is vital that the EHU officer liaises with the TA officers dealing with the case to ensure the case is dealt with correctly according to procedure, and to ensure that our legislative responsibilities are adhered to.

If the applicant has a PSL tenancy the EHU officer will liaise with the managing agent and the ASB team and issue formal warnings to the applicant as required. If the applicant has a short life or Bed and Breakfast placement TA will inform the EHU officer involved, and together they will formally warn the client about the effect their behaviour will have on their rehousing.

At the correct stage of the process the managing agents will inform TA staff of the difficulties with the applicant

B. If the decision is that the family is to be evicted,

  • A discharge of duty decision letter will invite families to apply for S17 assessment (if not previously completed), but should specify that unless there are exceptional circumstances (i.e. that child will suffer Significant Harm) no support will be offered by Social Services;
  • Referral form and copy of S184 decision faxed to Social Services Department (Children & Families Team);
  • The Right of Review Form informing the applicant of their right to request a review of the decision is given to applicant with the Discharge of duty decision letter.


3. Social Services Assessment (Children and Family Team)

Assessment (if not previously completed) undertaken by Children & Families social worker on the request of client/housing.

Any exceptional circumstances should be addressed in the body of the assessment.

A. Potential outcomes include:

  • Immediate S17 support (other than accommodation);
  • Exceptional circumstances where limited financial provision to assist with housing needs identified;
  • Referral to other services e.g. Adult Services;
  • No further action.

B. Reporting outcomes of Social Services assessment

  • Copy to family.

It is anticipated that in normal circumstances this will be the end of Social Services involvement specifically in relation to housing needs alone, except where other needs are being met.

  1. Rent deposit funded under Children Act;
  2. Support the families to make their own arrangements.

Whichever action plan is adopted, the review process will continue to be considered by Housing if requested, at the same time. If the outcome of the review is positive, the Housing department will accept responsibility and continue to provide accommodation, thereby ending social services involvement. On the other hand, if the outcome of the review is negative, social services can continue to assist the family as planned.

Referral form

FROM:
Housing Officer
TO: Duty Manager
Children & Family Team
APPLICATION REF: DATE:
Subject: Referral to Social Services under Housing Act 1998
Client's Name
Family composition
Children's Name(s) Sex Date of Birth















The above family approached Emergency Housing Unit on (insert date) as homeless. They have been found to be:

  1. Intentionally homeless; OR
  2. Not eligible for housing assistance because they have no recourse to public funds; OR
  3. Housing duty has been discharged for other reasons indicated in the decision letter. (Delete if not appropriate).

The Homelessness Code of guidance recommends that all persons for whom the Housing department have discharged duty under Homelessness legislation, but have dependent children should be referred to the Social Services Authority for assessment under the Children’s Act 1989”.

I attach a copy of the Council’s decision letter confirming the details.

GUIDELINES

Families deemed as intentionally homeless

Social Services and Housing Directorates will work together to assess families who become intentionally homeless under the terms of the Housing Act (1996), (i.e. eviction).

If the assessment identifies reasons for continued social services involvement, Children & Family’s Section can consider using a range of powers under the Children Act to meet assessed need, but it cannot place children and their parents in temporary accommodation.

If the S17 assessment indicates that parents have community care needs, an assessment are required under S47 National Health Service and Community Act 1990, and should be referred to the relevant team.

Ineligible families

These families have no recourse to public funds. They include:

1. Families who fail the Habitual Residence Test
2. Families with immigration restriction.
  • Those who have applied for refugee status but have been refused;
  • Those who were sponsored by family members on the proviso that they will be maintained and Accommodated by the sponsors;
  • Those families who came on a visitor or student visa;
  • Those families who have entered the UK to work

Assessments under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 and Section 21 of the National Assistance Act 1948, will apply. Additionally, assessment Section 47 of the National Health Service Act will apply if specific parental needs are identified e.g. medical needs. If no specific needs are identified, these families can be directed to their Embassy’s/reported to the Immigration Service/assisted in returning home and further support from Social Services will cease.

End