The council has a legal responsibility to house you in some kind of accommodation if you convince them that you’re genuinely homeless.
You may then inquire, well why are there so many people of no fixed address on the streets?
Nearly all people that are out on the streets don’t have any ID to show whom they are, such as a Drivers Licence, Passport or Birth Certificate and, I dare say you’re thinking, well why don’t they just go and get a birth certificate?
Once more without any ID they can’t sign on because you require ID for everything these days, or you don’t qualify to anything.
The majority of homeless people will go to night shelters, but the government has now adjusted their stratagem and, at the moment night shelters are being threatened with being closed down.
People are requesting Lord Freud to take into consideration the implementation of the recently revised definition of “dwelling” so that housing benefit can be paid to night shelters who give urgent overnight accommodation for homeless people.
These funds give critical finance to night shelters and, the night shelters may close if the money is removed, which will impose unnecessary suffering on society’s most vulnerable human beings.
Up until February 2013, night shelters met the requirements of a “dwelling” and were entitled to housing benefit payments for each night that a person of no fixed address held an area in that shelter.
A court of law ruled (“the Anglesey Judgement”) that night shelters from this time fall outside the interpretation of a “dwelling”. So, for the time being the rules have now changed once more to seemingly preserve money that the government no longer want to pay out.
This indicates that the local authorities can from this time decline to pay housing benefit to night shelters for the reasons that they don’t offer the facility for the homeless person to remain at least 24 hours in an area where they can leave behind their possessions and, come back the next day and, although night shelters close throughout the day so that the people who maintain them can sleep, so there would be no difficulty if the homeless left their belongings there, but that’s irrelevant.
The fact is this if you remain somewhere with your worldly goods; it then becomes a “dwelling”, nevertheless, if you can no longer leave your property there, then it’s not a “dwelling” and, welfare benefits only pay for a “dwelling”.
Nonetheless, if a person with no fixed address then lives in a cardboard box with their valuables, that then becomes a “dwelling” and; consequently a homeless person should qualify to housing benefit.
The most unpleasant thing is that across the nation, local authorities are interpreting the decision of the court differently and, a number of local authorities have terminated payment, maintaining that’s law and, others haven’t and, are satisfied they can carry on paying housing benefit.
The matter of remittance for overnight shelters was heard in a Tribunal court and, the verdict was maintained in the Isle of Anglesey County Court to the effect that the appellant did not qualify to housing benefit to pay the costs of the times he stayed overnight at the night shelter in Holyhead in the space separating December 2007 and June 2008.
Nevertheless, it needs to be emphasised that this situation turns on its own particular facts and, that the issues resulting in this sort of case are “fact intensive”, to borrow that expression from Lord Justice Mance as he then was, in the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
Nonetheless, nothing said was intended to stipulate how housing benefit entitlements from rough sleepers should be determined.
The council was eager to emphasise that its decision in this instance was restricted to its specific facts that it was not authority for, nor was the council saying that people staying in night shelters could at no time be eligible for housing benefit.
This is all extremely unclear and, the vulnerable are going to suffer considerably because there is no long term stability for people of no fixed address, so they can’t invest in their futures.
Even so, if you altered the name of “Shelter” to “Hostel”, then you would qualify to housing benefit, so long as you had your own sleeping area and, showers were on the site, as well as food supplies, whether being given by workers, or cooked for by the homeless person.