Housing and homelessness staff in local authorities, and others with a front line role such as environmental health officers, can play an important role in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children as part of their day-to-day work – recognising child welfare issues, sharing information, making referrals and subsequently managing or reducing risks of harm.
In many areas, local authorities do not directly own and manage housing, having transferred these responsibilities to one or more registered social landlords (RSLs). Housing authorities remain responsible for assessing the needs of families, under homelessness legislation, and for managing nominations to RSLs who provide housing in their area. They continue to have an important role in safeguarding children because of their contact with families as part of the assessment of need, and because of the influence they have designing and managing prioritisation, assessment and allocation of housing.
From 1 April 2010, the Tenant Services Authority (TSA) will regulate the whole social housing sector using its new regulatory framework26. The TSA has been consulting tenants and landlords on proposed regulatory standards for social landlords; the final standards will be issued shortly. Under the TSA’s proposals, all social housing providers would be expected to understand and respond to the particular needs of their tenants and co-operate with other partners at a local level, including local authorities, to promote social, environmental and economic wellbeing in those areas.
A number of RSLs across the country provide specialist supported housing schemes specifically for young people at risk and/or young people leaving care and pregnant teenagers. These schemes cater for 16- and 17-year-olds. Housing authorities and children’s services should refer to the forthcoming joint DCSF and CLG guidance about their duties under Part III of the Children Act 1989 and Part 7 of the Housing act 1996 to secure or provide accommodation for homeless 16- and 17-year-old children.