Brighton and Hove CC: Housing allocations policy and "a local connection"

STEVE PARRY made this Freedom of Information request to Brighton and Hove City Council

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Dear Brighton and Hove City Council,

At the Health and Wellbeing Board, 11 September 2018, housing allocations policy, including the definition of “local connection”, was minuted as follows:

“Housing Allocations Policy:
Live in the Brighton & Hove area and have lived in the area continuously for the five years immediately proceeding[sic] the date they make their application for Housing and continue to reside in the Brighton & Hove area unless any of the following circumstances apply:
(i) They are homeless and the council has accepted a full duty to them under the Housing Act 1996 S193 (2) that has not yet ceased
(ii) The Housing Department has accepted a nomination for the applicant from the council’s Children’s Services or Adult Social Care Department or other approved partner support agency in line with inter-agency agreements to the council’s interest queue who has been placed outside of Brighton & Hove under a statutory duty and need to return to the city.
(iii) They are serving in the regular forces.
(iv) They have service in the regular forces when the application is made within 5 years of discharge.
(v) They are serving or have served in the reserve forces and are suffering from a serious injury, illness or disability, which is attributable (wholly or partly) to that service.
(vi) They have recently ceased or will cease, to be entitled to reside in accommodation provided by the Ministry of Defence following the death of their spouse or civil partner where their spouse or civil partner has served in the regular forces.
(vii) The council has agreed to rehome them under a reciprocal agreement with their current landlord or local authority where their current landlord or local authority has agreed that, if Brighton & Hove houses them, they will house an applicant nominated by Brighton & Hove City Council.
(viii) The council has accepted an application for an existing secure or assured tenant seeking to transfer under the right to move scheme.
(ix) Refocusing / relocation into Brighton & Hove is accepted by the council as being essential in the furtherance of the national Witness Protection Scheme.
Statutory ‘Local connection’ under part (vii) of the Housing Act 1996
Defines that an applicant has a local connection with a district, because: (i) he or she is, or was in the past, normally resident there and that residence was of his or her own choice; or
(ii) he or she is employed there (i.e. the applicant actually works there; it would not be sufficient that his or her employer’s head office was located there); or
(iii) of family associations there; or
(iv) of any special circumstances (e.g. the need to be near special medical or support services which are available only in that particular district).
Local Connection - Rough Sleeping: LC CRITERIA To be deemed as having a ‘Local Connection’, a person must fulfil one or more of the following:
Person must: 1. Have lived in Brighton and Hove for at least 6 out of the last 12 months. Sleeping rough here will not count – they must have had a tenancy.
2. Have lived in Brighton and Hove for at least 3 out of the last 5 years. Again, sleeping rough will not count and they must have had a tenancy.
3. Have close family who are living here and who have lived here for at least the past 5 years. Close family means: (i) mother or father (ii) brother, sister, son or daughter all of which must be over 18 years of age (iii) carer over 18 years of age
Please note: ‘close family’ means just that. If there is no actual ‘relationship’ with the family member already living here, the person applying would not be considered to have a Local Connection under this part.
4. Have permanent full-time employment in the city – please note Big Issue vending does not meet this criterion.
5. Other special reason, such as growing up and attending school in the area or fleeing domestic violence in an area."

Could you please provide information held by BHCC that justifies the criteria and definition of ‘close family’, exclusion of rough sleepers, and the requirement of “a tenancy” as proof of a Local Connection?
Could you also provide any information held that relates to, and shows the content of, advice provided by officers of BHCC working on a one to one basis with citizens seeking support and a duty of care & responsibility as a result of them being made homeless?
Yours truly
Steve Parry

Freedom Of Information, Brighton and Hove City Council

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Freedom of Information request
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Your reference: [FOI #532433 email]

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Freedom of Information request
Our reference: 2532466
Your reference: [FOI #532433 email]

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Gill Reynard, Brighton and Hove City Council

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Dear Mr Parry

 

Please see our attachments to our response to the above Freedom of
Information request, as referred to in our response letter.

 

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Freedom Of Information, Brighton and Hove City Council

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Dear Mr Parry

 

Please see attachments to the response letter sent today.

 

Yours sincerely

Information Compliance Officer I Information Governance Team I IT &
Digital

 

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Dear Freedom Of Information,

Thank you for your response of 11 December including the 17 attachments.

My apologies for the delay in responding but I am sure you can appreciate it has taken a while to examine the material provided.

You state that; “Some of the information you requested is on our website”
Clearly this is the case as I refer to information published by BHCC when asking for information held by the council “that justifies the criteria and definition of ‘close family’, exclusion of rough sleepers, and the requirement of “a tenancy” as proof of a Local Connection”
It is justification and, implicit within the request, an explanation of contradictions between BHHC policy and homelessness legislation to which I refer in the substance of my request.

I am unable to understand the logic of your argument that I have; “conflated the Local Connection criteria within our [BHCC] Housing Allocation
Policy – which relates to applications to the Housing Register (and is set locally)
and the Local Connection criteria within the Housing Act 1996 Part VII, which is
used when assessing homeless applications (which is national legislation). The
criteria are quite different.”

A ‘Local Connection’ criterion is determined by legislation including the Housing Act and that relating specifically to homelessness. The application of the criteria is a matter for the local authority. The council’s determination of “what constitutes local connection” must obviously be within the constraints of the relevant legislation.

I am afraid that your response avoids, rather than responds to, the request submitted 14.11.18.

I must therefore suggest that you reconsider your response to my request;
“Could you please provide information held by BHCC that justifies the criteria and definition of ‘close family’, exclusion of rough sleepers, and the requirement of “a tenancy” as proof of a Local Connection?”

In relation to the second element of my FOI request;
“Could you also provide any information held that relates to,
and shows the content of, advice provided by officers of BHCC working
on a one to one basis with citizens seeking support and a duty of care &
responsibility as a result of them being made homeless?”
You were generous in your provision of material including an informative blank PHP and the allocations EIA. However, there was nothing on local connection!
For example;
• What is/are the form(s) completed by the housing officer when a homeless person is interviewed (apart from the PHP already supplied)?
• If it is an onscreen form, please could you provide a print-out?
• What documents or guidance (apart from the statute and the statutory Code of Guidance) does the housing officer have to assist them in deciding whether the homeless person has a local connection, whether with Brighton & Hove or anywhere else?
• When you refer to the requirement of “a tenancy” does this mean a tenancy agreement or are there various documents that provide sufficient evidence to meet this requirement?

Yours truly,

Steve Parry

Freedom Of Information, Brighton and Hove City Council

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How we process a new Freedom of Information (FOI) Request

 

When you submit a new FOI Request we will do the following;

 

·         We will log your FOI request and send confirmation of this to
you by email, together with a FOI request reference number. We aim to do
this within two working days of receiving your request.

 

·         Please note that future email correspondence regarding your FOI
request will then be sent to you from
[1][email address]

 

·         We will allocate your FOI request to the appropriate Council
team(s) in order for them to collate the information you have requested.

 

·         Once we have received an approved response back from the
relevant Council team(s), we will send this to you.

o   Please note that the response to your FOI request will be sent to you
in letter form, as an email attachment.

o   An anonymized version of the response to your FOI request may be
published on the Council’s [2]Disclosure Log.

 

When you can expect to receive a response to your FOI request

 

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 the Council has a legal
obligation to respond to your request no later than 20 working days
following the date of receipt. Wherever possible, a response to your FOI
request will be sent to you before the legal deadline of 20 working days.

 

Further Information

 

You can find more information about the FOI process on the Council website
through the following link;

 

[3]Freedom of Information – Brighton & Hove City Council  

 

Making a Freedom of Information (FOI) request using the Council’s online
FOI request form

 

You can now make new FOI requests using the Council’s online FOI request
form. The online FOI request form is available through the following link
and on the Council website;

 

[4]Online FOI request form

 

 

Thank you,

 

Information Governance Team | 01273 295959 | [5]Brighton & Hove City
Council

Notice to recipient:
The information contained in this electronic mail message is intended only
for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed
and may contain information which is privileged and confidential, the
disclosure of which is prohibited by law.
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that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this
communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this
communication in error please notify the sender immediately.
Thank you in anticipation of your co-operation.

You can visit our website at [6]http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk

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Freedom of Information request
Our reference: 2532466
Your reference: [FOI #532433 email]

show quoted sections

Dear Brighton and Hove City Council,

Thank you for your acknowledgement of my response.

You refer to my request for an 'Internal Review' which I did not ask for.

I asked that in addition to the interesting and informative material provided that you also reply to the specific question;

“Could you please provide information held by BHCC that justifies the criteria and definition of ‘close family’, exclusion of rough sleepers, and the requirement of “a tenancy” as proof of a Local Connection?”

Yours truly,

Steve Parry

Dear Brighton and Hove City Council,

I would be grateful if you could advise me of when I am likely to receive a full response to my FOI request of 14.11.18 and my most recent email of 24.12.18.

Yours truly,

Steve Parry