, 21 tweets, 10 min read Read on Twitter
So for the last few months I have been exploring setting up a dedicated #Housing advice centre for #Suffolk. It is undeniable that due to the lack of #LegalAid provision in the county and the increase in people seeking specialist advice that a housing advice centre is desirable.
Whilst speaking to people about this a question that has been raised a number of times is “why are you not still providing specialist housing advice at @midsuffolkcab?” A good question that really does need answering so here goes.
This was me just over 7 months ago, happy #volunteering for @midsuffolkcab as a housing adviser and running a general advice outreach service at Wattisham. I was busy, the role stressful but for the most part I was throughly enjoying being part of something that I believed in.
In May 2018 a client was referred to me after receiving a Sect. 21 notice. A homelessness application was made to @MidSuffolk Housing, negotiations with the landlord to allow the client more time in the property began.
So far, so good. @MidSuffolk accepted a Sect.195(2) duty and the landlord agreed to delay the possession date. But in August the client received notice that @MidSuffolk were ending their Sect.195(2) prevention duty. This despite the client was still facing a possession claim.
At our next meeting, with the client facing homelessness within 4 weeks we wrote a letter requesting a Sect. 202 review of the decision to end the Sect. 195 (2) duty. Then came 6 weeks of obfuscation and contradiction by @MidSuffolk regarding the review or lack thereof.
In mid October the client was homeless, no review was forthcoming and nearing the 21 day deadline for the client to apply for a ruling on the lawfulness of the decision to end the Sect. 195(2) duty I contacted @Shelter in Norwich, the nearest #LegalAid housing advice provider.
@Shelter agreed with my opinion, asking that the case be referred to them, cautioning that due to a high case load they might not be able to assist. I then informed my manager, Carol Eagles that I was going to refer the case to @Shelter but would assist the client if needed.
What happened next truly astonished me - in short I was told “I will not let you take action against Mid Suffolk” and “I need time to speak to high level contacts at Mid Suffolk.”
The following day I had a phone call from my manager saying she had spoken to Nick Gowrley, @midsuffolkcab trustee and leader of @MidSuffolk , that I was wrong, the Sect. 195(2) duty had not ended and there was no review being carried out and I should inform the client of this.
Despite questioning this I was directed in no uncertain terms that this was the case and I should relay this to the client. When I called the client he told me that he had just had a call from @midsuffolkcab housing allocations offering him a council property. Coincidence?
After constant refusal to agree to provide accommodation to the client @MidSuffolk had in 24 hours changed their stance. Given the clients banding and the average waiting time, to be allocated a property so rapidly seemed highly improbable.
By now I was throughly uncomfortable with what had occurred and so made a formal complaint to the chair of @midsuffolkcab trustees. This was not something I did lightly but felt there was no other option, a view that the few colleagues I spoke to held as well.
What followed was a masterclass in blame deflection and what aboutery, ignored evidence and culminated in a final response from @CitizensAdvice that contradicts both itself and the report from the trustee led inquiry team.
The initial inquiry team attempted to justify what had happened by saying my manager was unaware of the client case and wanted to make sure that I was correct in my analysis. Except she was fully aware, a fact that was then confirmed by the final @CitizensAdvice report.
The inquiry team acknowledged that housing law was outside of their expertise but went on to make incorrect interpretations of the Housing Act 1996, the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, social housing allocation policy and conflated a County Court appeal with a Judicial Review.
Most concerning was that they stated that @MidSuffolk “are still on a learning curve”, that “action against eg a funder would be the last resort” and that other options should be sought as it was less stressful and costly for client and potentially the opponent/funder/MSDC.
After receiving the report from the inquiry team I requested a review,outlining 30 errors that I believed needed addressing, including the above. The review response dismissed most of them as irrelevant and then introduced a new reason for the refusal to assist the client.
I then requested a final review from @CitizensAdvice. This was much delayed, contradicted itself several times and managed at one point to misquote the previous review and has provided no reassurance that this situation has been investigated throughly or fairly.
The client is rehoused in a suitable property - interestingly, after he signed the tenancy agreement he was offered another property! I resigned from @midsuffolkcab in December 2018 leaving friends and colleagues wondering why I had left something I so visibly enjoyed.
The team at @midsuffolkcab do fantastic work for so many people and I miss being part of that but I could no longer volunteer as a housing adviser for an organisation that has lost sight of its impartiality and independence. #AccessToJustice #SHAC
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to James Hanlon
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!