Hertsmere Borough Council ex p Woolgar [1996] 2 F.C.R. 69 (QBD)

Housing – decision-making – delegation – powers – duties – homelessness

The council had transferred its housing stock to two housing associations which then took over the maintenance of the housing waiting list. The applicant applied to one of the associations for housing but was offered accommodation in an area in which she did not wish to live. She had also applied to the council as a homeless person under the Housing Act 1985 and had been found to be unintentionally homeless and in priority need.

When she refused the housing association’s offer of accommodation, the council informed the applicant that the offer was reasonable and no further offers would be made. She applied for judicial review of its decision, arguing that its duty to secure accommodation for her could not be performed by a housing association because the council’s statutory obligations were not transferable.

Dismissing the application, the Court held that there had been no unlawful transfer or delegation of functions because the council retained its duties of decision-making in relation to securing accommodation for homeless persons. So long as the decision-making duty was kept exclusively within the council; a duty exercisable only within the limits of s101 Local Government Act 1972, there was nothing unlawful in an arrangement whereby a housing association was merely giving assistance in finding accommodation for homeless persons.

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