An important new case on use of the Localism Act General Power to accommodate adults with no other recourse to help, not even under a human rights driven assessment for Care Act duties or powers!

The Queen (on the application of GS by her LF the OS) v Camden LBC has just been decided in the High Court, on 21 Oct. Here is the link [2016] EWHC 1762 (Admin)


It has held that the General Power under the Localism Act can be the basis for delivery of a human rights driven service in the shape of accommodation for even non-eligible needs under the Care Act!


I take this to be a significant development of the state of care and support law, firstly in the PSIC/NRPF field, but also beyond cases in which immigration status is relevant, beyond that which has previously been settled.


I take it to mean that accommodation that’s been provided to an adult, temporarily, by a council, for the meeting of urgent needs, pending consideration of social care needs, and human rights considerations, cannot be withdrawn just because there is ultimately a conclusion that a person is not in fact eligible under the Care Act for accommodation, and not in line for a consideration of any s19 Care Act power (because of not having any needs for care or support) if in fact that withdrawal would be a breach of Convention rights.


To my mind that changes the face of local authority obligations and constitutes a very large new burden – because it could apply to anyone street homeless and in a dire situation, regardless of their immigration status, or their eligibility for adult social care, once denied an accommodation related service under the Care Act, even if they were also not able to access Housing or Homelessness help.


This new obligation would be a LOCAL AUTHORITY obligation, rather than a Housing or Social Services obligation (as it is when the person’s situation justifies using the legislation despite the prohibition on help to people with a certain immigration status, since social services is the agency of last resort).


If it is a new burden, then surely central government needs to fund until it no doubt finds time to legislate to override the effect of the decision?


My next specialist webinar on Wednesday morning 2nd November is about NRPF clients’ rights, in any event.

Please contact me on [email protected] if you would like to be given a free seat in that webinar (no access to recording without a purchase however!)


Belinda Schwehr

About Belinda Schwehr

Belinda has been a lawyer (both a barrister and then a solicitor advocate), a law lecturer at a university, and a trainer and consultant specialising in Adults' Social Care legal framework issues. She first became interested in social care law when the Gloucestershire case was running between 1995 and 1997, never having met a real live social worker, before that point! She regards social care as the most interesting field of law she has ever been associated with, combining aspects of public law, the regulation of power, economics, management skills, EU law, procurement, criminal law, incapacity law, land law and contract, and doesn't expect ever to tire of the stuff. If the Care Act is going to be the last word on it, however, she would like to think it was worth all that sitting there and getting fatter whilst thinking about how it should all hang together! She does glass craftwork and house renovations for a hobby, has one son in his twenties, and about 5000 online friends... soon to be 50,000, with any luck!

4 thoughts on “An important new case on use of the Localism Act General Power to accommodate adults with no other recourse to help, not even under a human rights driven assessment for Care Act duties or powers!”

  1. David Minto

    Hello Belinda
    Interesting as I’m currently researching local authority attitudes towards returning Ex Pats. I’m a a social worker on a career break supporting a couple of people who feel they cannot continue to reside in Spain but are currently getting a poor approach from their chosen area of English residence.

    Folks are getting quite anxious with regard to Brexit and the apparent closing door of localism!

    Good luck


    1. Belinda SchwehrBelinda Schwehr Post Author

      The Guidance says this and must be followed as it represents the law:

      British citizens resuming permanent residence in England after period abroad

      31) British citizens returning to England after a period of residing abroad (who had given up their previous home in this country) are entitled to an assessment as soon as they return if they appear to have needs for care and support.

      32) Accordingly, a returning British citizen would usually acquire an ordinary residence in the area in which they chose to locate, if their intention was to stay living there for settled purposes. For example, they may have family in a particular area and choose to settle there for that reason or they may have no particular reason to locate in a given area. As long as they can demonstrate an intention to remain in the place they are living for settled purposes, they are able to acquire an ordinary residence there.

      33) However, if a returning citizen presents to a local authority on their return to England but has no particular intention to settle in that area, the local authority may decide they may be found to be of ‘no settled residence’ and/or in ‘urgent need’ (see heading ‘People with Urgent Needs’). Each case should be decided on an individual basis.

      34) It should be noted that ordinary residence can be acquired as soon as a person moves to an area, if their move is voluntary and for settled purposes. There is no minimum period in which a person has to be living in a particular place for them to be considered ordinarily resident there, because it depends on the nature and quality of the connection with the new place.

  2. Nadia Phillips

    Hi Belinda
    I am hoping you may be able to help/
    My son, now age 19 and a ‘former relevant child’ had to be Sectioned under the MHA 1983, on 19 September 2015. Initially under S2 – he was re-sectioned under S3 and again under S3 and then a 12 month section sunder S3.

    Initially, he was in a Generic Mental Health Facility within our local area, but given him having a diagnosis of ASD (since 2012) and ADHD (2007) – he was transferred to a Specialist (Autism) MH Hospital in Nottingham (190 miles from home); where he remains.

    Since being detained, he has had CPA meetings and his last CPA was on 25 October, we were told at that meeting that a new system, meant another meeting would follow shortly afterwards, called CTR (Care Treatment Review). However, despite chasing this up, the meeting did not take place until 10 January 2017 (announced at very short notice, on 5 Jan 2017).

    Anyway, my ongoing concern in relation to my sons general Care and Treatment/ Care planning etc is the lack of any direct input from our local Social Services or Mental Health (Oxleas Foundation)Team – which means that my son has now been detained for 16 months and despite my repeatedly pointing it out at meetings (with CCG present / NHS England) that there is no discharge planning / Social Services Intervention/Community Mental Health Team?

    My son had a Social Worker when he was sectioned, she is from the Leaving Care Team and had been very unsupportive and unhelpful and clearly did not recognise Autistic traits and how it affected my son. I had made it very clear that my son needed to be seen/input from Adult Social Services and the Social Worker from Leaving Care Team – said she had made referral to them??
    Several months ago – but have had no feedback.. The Social Worker had visited my son a couple of times, but having no authority or understanding of the system and totally not experienced or able to source appropriate support and accommodation planning for my sons return to our local community?

    My son is under CPA and eligible for S117 aftercare. He has a diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorder and has made amazing progress. He has been taking full advantage of S17 leave, he had his first home leave last week, which went very well. Although he was given 12 hour leave, that included 8 hours of travelling to and from my house. He was assessed by a Doctor from a Specialist Mental Health Hospital closer to home last week and this was successful, now awaiting transfer/available bed? Which should not take very long.

    I have major concerns that my son is now progressing at such a rate, he is almost if not already at the point of discharge /community treatment order? However, Social Services still not involved, no assessments carried out and there is the question of his accommodation being organised.
    My son’s MH Journey/recovery has been distressing, alarming and he has had a very difficult journey to get where he is now. I am concerned without the right support planning /accommodation and very specialist assessed support and intervention, he will quickly return to old lifestyle/habits and problems in community. As he knows no different, he needs help to manage day to day living, keeping a home, making the right choices decision, advice and practical support to find training/employment. Leisure activities /new interests and accommodation is major/key to him remaining in the community.

    I have done all I can to alert everyone (professionsals, Hospital Social Workers, Local Social Services, his Social Worker/ her line manager, CCG and NHS England and Experts by Experience) yet they do not seem to be majorly concerned? I am really beginning to panic. now as I envisaged at this rate, my son will once again be ‘set up to fail’ by Social Services – who have totally ignored all my requests?

    Any advice/information you may be able to offer, would be very much appreciated.

    Many thanks
    Mother and Nearest RelativeNADZ1P

    1. Belinda SchwehrBelinda Schwehr Post Author


      I have to say at once that I cannot help on this forum with a matter of this type. It is a request for legal advice with enormous significance for your son. You need to a regulated lawyer who works in mental health, and the firm of Lucy Scott-Moncrieff is the best place to start looking. click here I will email more privately. Belinda

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