Hackney Community Law Centre (HCLC) and Hackney Migrant Centre (HMC) are delighted to publish our new report: ‘A Place To Call Home – A Report into the Standard of Accommodation provided to Children in Need in London‘.
Since November 2014, lawyer, writer and human rights campaigner Charlotte Threipland has been conducting research for HCLC and HMC into the standard of accommodation provided to migrant families under s17 of the Children Act 1989.
The research, funded by the Strategic Legal Fund for Vulnerable Young Migrants, took a mixed method approach comprising interviews, surveys, expert opinions and freedom of information requests made to London Local Authorities under the Freedom of Information Act 2012.
HCLC and HMC decided to commission the research to highlight the severe housing difficulties faced by thousands of destitute migrant families who are simply not on the radar of political decision-makers, policy-makers or journalists.
Some families we interviewed for the report were being placed in accommodation with no working toilet – one mother and her children were forced to use plastic bags to defecate. Other accommodation had no heating. Other families – overwhelmingly women and young children – were placed in accommodation with vulnerable and extremely disturbed adults.
By publishing the report, HCLC and HMC hope to raise awareness of the overwhelming housing challenges facing London’s migrant families – a topic which has so far received little mainstream attention.
Report author Charlotte Threipland was supported in her work by a project steering group made up of representatives from Hackney Community Law Centre, Hackney Migrant Centre, Garden Court Chambers, Project 17, Coram Children’s Legal Centre, Southwark Law Centre, Matthew Gold Solicitors, Shelter and the Public Law Project.
The 130 page report which sets out a number of key findings and 26 recommendations for implementation by Central and Local Government, respectively, including calling on them to:
- (Central Government): Conduct a fundamental review into the provision of subsistence and accommodation support to section 17 families. The guiding principle for any review must be what is in the best interests of children in need.
- (Central Government): Consult on and publish statutory guidance setting out minimum standards for accommodation provided under section 17. The guidance should aim to encompass each of the recommendations of this report.
- (Local Government): Fulfil their temporary accommodation needs by using professional providers as letting agents who are members of ARLA (the Association of Rental Residential Letting Agents) and only using properties from accredited landlords. The providers should comply with the relevant parts of the Private Rented Sector Code of Practice.
HCLC and HMC are extremely keen to work with Local Authority Leaders, Cabinet Members and Directors to provide training to Elected Members and Council Officers about their statutory duties under s.17 and to assist them with the implementation of the recommendations.
Commentating on the research, report author Charlotte Threipland said:
“I am pleased to have been able to carry out this important research for Hackney Community Law Centre and Hackney Migrant Centre to highlight some of the everyday problems faced by vulnerable migrant children and their families.
We hope the report will lead to increased public awareness of the thousands of London-based families who do not have recourse to public funds and are living in extreme poverty.
The findings of the report need to be given serious consideration by central and local government, the GLA and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.
We strongly encourage them to issue statutory guidance and recommendations to address the terrible housing problems our report has highlighted.“
*TO DOWNLOAD THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF ‘A PLACE TO CALL HOME’ PLEASE CLICK HERE*
*TO DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT PLEASE CLICK HERE*
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If you would like a hard copy please send an email to @firstname.lastname@example.org*