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AMA OPPOSES PREGNANT HOMELESS PLANS

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The government should not change homelessness legislation to dissuade women from having babies to obtain a council ...
The government should not change homelessness legislation to dissuade women from having babies to obtain a council home, the Association of Metropolitan Authorities plans to tell the government.

The AMA will write to Housing Minister Sir George Young next week saying there is no evidence of women becoming pregnant to jump housing queues.

However, one association member, Conservative controlled Wandsworth LBC, is to call on the government to change the Homeless Persons Act 1977 to make it harder for single mothers under the age of 18 to gain council housing.

The law could be changed to exclude children as a justification for urgent rehousing or to only give priority status to two partner families.

But Andrew Arden QC, an expert on housing law, said both remedies were 'unpalatable in law'.

The first would punish the child and the second would provide an incentive for fraud and would increase domestic violence. 'The only viable way to do it is to limit the age of the applicant', he said.

But this would also be unworkable, said Mr Arden. 'You cannot have a blanket 18 [year old limit] without any exceptions.

'What happens if the child is pregnant as a result of abuse or incest'?

But a change in legislation may not be needed for councils to avoid the problem in their own area. They already have considerable leeway to house single parents outside their area in private rented accommodation or through nominations to housing associations.

Any delay in rehousing homeless people need only be shown to be 'reasonable'.

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