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Local authority support

Local authorities may have a duty to accommodate those who are not eligible for homelessness assistance or Home Office support under its various powers.

Children and young people

Information on the available accommodation and support for children can be found in the children and young people section.

Care Act 2014

If an adult has care needs which arise from or relate to a physical or mental impairment, they may be eligible for care and support from the local authority. Under the Care Act 2014 local authorities have a duty to provide services to those who are  in need ‘care and support’.  These services can include:

  • Accommodation in a care home or in premises of some other type
  • Care and support at home or in the community
  • Counselling and other types of social work
  • Goods and facilities
  • Information, advice and advocacy.

Where it appears to a local authority that an adult may have a need for care and support, a needs assessment must be carried out. The local authority is able to provide accommodation whilst this is done. The assessment will focus on whether the person being assessed is unable to make two or more specified outcomes and as a consequence there is, or is likely to be, a significant impact on the adult’s well-being. The specified outcomes are:

  • Managing and maintaining nutrition
  • Maintaining personal hygiene
  • Managing toilet needs
  • Being appropriately clothed
  • Being able to make use of the adult’s home safely
  • Maintaining a habitable home environment
  • Developing and maintaining family or other personal relationships
  • Accessing and engaging in work, training, education or volunteering
  • Making use of necessary facilities or services in the local community including public transport, and recreational facilities or services
  • Carrying out any caring responsibilities the adult has for a child.

The High Court has held that the need for accommodation is not, on its own, need for ‘care and support’ and the applicant will need to have other needs for the local authority to provide accommodation under its powers under the Care Act 2014.

In certain circumstances, local authorities may still have a duty to provide accommodation under s.1 of the Localism Act 2011 in order to prevent a person from becoming destitute, even where someone does not have any need for care and support. .

Where local authorities refuse to conduct an assessment or provide accommodation and other services, the only remedy is judicial review. It is important that a client is referred to a solicitor with a legal aid contract at the earliest opportunity so that they can get support with making representations to the local authority.

Exclusions from local authority support

The following people are not eligible* for local authority support: 

  • Persons granted refugee status in another EEA state
  • Nationals of another EEA member state
  • Former asylum seeker who has failed to cooperate with removal directions
  • A person who is in the UK in breach of immigration laws
  • Former asylum-seekers with dependent children where the Secretary of State has certified that they are not taking all reasonable steps to leave the United Kingdom.

These provisions do not apply to children or British citizens and they do not stop local authorities from providing support in order to prevent a breach of the person’s Convention rights or a right under European Union law.

Where someone is ineligible for support, local authorities should conduct a human rights assessment to consider whether there will be a breach of a convention right if support is withheld. Arguments frequently centre on whether there will be a breach of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment) if a person is denied shelter, food or the most basic necessities of life, while they have an outstanding application for leave to remain. If they would be forced to leave the UK, this could potentially breach their Article 8 rights to a private or family life or they are unable to leave the UK at all. It may be arguable, in some circumstances, that a victim of trafficking would be at risk of a breach of Article 4 (prohibition on slavery and forced labour) if they were left in a situation of destitution where they could be at risk of re-trafficking as a consequence.

Local authorities have general powers under s.1 of the Localism Act 2011 to provide accommodation and support. This may be the only support available to an adult victim of trafficking who does not have children or any care and support needs.

If a local authority decides there will be a breach, it will provide the minimum level of support to prevent that breach which could include accommodation and money for subsistence and/or travel to the person’s country of origin.

Where a local authority refuses to conduct an assessment or provide accommodation and other services, the only remedy is judicial review. It is important that a client is referred to a solicitor with a legal aid contract at the earliest opportunity so that they can get support with making representations to the local authority.

*See Schedule 3 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, under s.17 of the Children Act 1989, the leaving care provisions contained within s.23C, s23CA, s.24A and s.24B of the Children Act 1989; Part I of the Care Act 2014 and s.1 of the Localism Act 2011.

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