Skip to main content Skip to footer

Consultation Response

Social Housing Reform

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities wished to to seek views on the proposed changes to the social housing allocation system, and proposals relating to existing tenants. The consultation will inform secondary legislation that is proposed to be made under Part 6 of the Housing Act 1996.

What did BIHR say?

Our consultation response was co-written with Lived Experience Experts (LEEs) who contributed their direct experiences of social housing and the impact of the social housing allocation system. BIHR also drew on our work with individuals, communities and staff in the housing sector to inform our submission.

We said the UK Government needs to listen to a diverse range of voices when making decisions on further amendments to legislation in this area including a direct focus on the impact of human rights under the Human Rights Act 1998. This should also include how legislation is designed, implemented and enforced by public bodies in order to ensure the rights of those accessing social housing are met in practice.


1. We asked the Department to extend the consultation process to ensure broader participation of individuals and organisations with the ability to present their initial concerns with the reform in a more evidential and accessible way.

BIHR supports making existing rights protections explicit across required new legislation, guidance and policy. We saw through the Coronavirus Act the importance of placing the requirement to act compatibly with rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights on the face of the Act (these are the rights in our Human Rights Act). However, the consultation doesn’t say why new secondary legislation has been identified as the solution to the very real issues with housing allocation issued faced by people and their families.

Our work supporting public bodies to implement existing human rights law has demonstrated that simply adding more legislation to an already complex maze of legislation is not always the solution. We believe that supporting public bodies (and those delivering public functions) to put existing laws into practice is key. The Human Rights Act already protects the Article 8 right to private and family life, and it is important that staff know this is a legal duty which they must respect, protect and fulfil across all decision and actions. If staff are not meeting their existing legal duties under the Human Rights Act, there is a duty to properly investigate why and put measures in place to rectify this. If research shows that secondary legislation is required to address the social housing issues faced by local authorities. However, at present, our experience of this work is that new legislation is not a magic wand for addressing rights issues; resource is better used to support proper implementation of current human rights legislation.

There seems to be a lack of transparency due to the lack of efforts in ensuring public awareness and participation in the consultation itself.

BIHR RITES Committee member

2. We asked that clearer guidance is set on how the UK connection and local test can be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

If the consultation reveals that new secondary legislation is required, this legislation must mirror the existing legal protections in the Human Rights Act. The right to private and family life ensures that any restriction which impacts a person’s contact with family and/or their participation in the community (and their autonomy, well-being) must meet a three-stage test set out in the Human Rights Act

“Section 6, the local connection test, fails to take into account the challenges faced by women and single mothers fleeing abuse, placed at a temporary accommodation and then not being able to be on the housing register, because they may have been in the area for less than 2 years. These women along with many other vulnerable adults, children and young people do not have access to a safe accommodation in accordance with the Human Rights Act. Constantly moving to new areas also affects their overall mental well-being and right to family life under the Human Rights Act.”

BIHR’s RITES Committee member

3. We asked the Department to establish a list of safeguards in the case of evictions that are rights-respecting under HRA.

If an eviction is lawful, legitimate and proportionate, the individual must have effective recourse to local authority support; evictions should not result in an individual or household becoming homeless or vulnerable to human rights violation. 

4. We asked that human rights capacity building training is provided to all public officials responsible for implementing these reforms.

All public bodies have the same duties under the Human Rights Act. BIHR feel that the Department must focus on the reality of social housing in the UK rather than rushed reforms as we approach a General Election. As with all reforms, the implementation and practicalities must be considered for all public authorities who will be involved. The implementation process should support individuals in housing to know their rights as well as support operational staff to understand the human rights legislation. Over the last year we have trained over 3,000 staff working in public authorities, many of whom have never received human rights training or have never been told about their duty to uphold human rights before.

Stay up-to-date

Get our newsletter

Get monthly updates on UK human rights law and our work, resources and events sent straight to your inbox.