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The Statutory Homelessness System in England: A Fair and Effective Rights-Based Model

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JournalHousing Studies
DatePublished - Mar 2012
Issue number2
Volume27
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)232-251
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The statutory homelessness system, first established by the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977, is an important but frequently criticised element of the British welfare state. Drawing upon a survey of 2053 ‘statutorily homeless’ families in England, this paper applies a utility-maximising conceptual framework to demonstrate that (a) the statutory homelessness system is on the whole ‘fair’ with respect to the housing needs that it addresses, and (b) ‘effective’, in that it can bring about significant net gains in the welfare of those households its assists. These encouraging findings are relevant not only to current concerns about the future direction of homelessness policy in England, but also to policy debates in many countries across the developed world where there are calls to develop a ‘rights-based’ approach to addressing homelessness.

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