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From intent to implementation: An empirical socio-legal analysis of ‘reasonable steps’ in the Housing (Wales) Act 2014

Williams, Kevin 2023. From intent to implementation: An empirical socio-legal analysis of ‘reasonable steps’ in the Housing (Wales) Act 2014. PhD Thesis, Cardiff Univeristy.
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The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 requires that Local Authorities take ‘reasonable steps’ to help prevent or relieve the homelessness of assistance applicants. These provisions are widely praised, held to be innovative, and are considered a cornerstone of the shift towards a prevention and early intervention homelessness policy in Wales. After seven years of implementation, the legislative duties to take reasonable steps have received very little academic attention from either policy or legal scholars. This thesis is the first empirical investigation of the intention, interpretation, and application of ‘reasonable steps,’ and considers the provisions from policy development through to implementation. Qualitative methods are used to gather empirical data. The ‘hidden’ policy aims of reasonable steps are unearthed and situated within Kingdon’s Multiple Streams Model, and Lipsky’s Street-Level Bureaucracy theory is used as a heuristic tool to examine the front-line implementation of the legislation. To complement the empirical data, and in the absence of any case law on reasonable steps in this context, a doctrinal analysis defines how the courts may interpret and scrutinise the legislation in practice in the event of a legal challenge. This study highlighted that the reasonable steps duty was to be broadly interpreted to support a flexible and collaborative approach in service provision, and that a failure of the provider to take this approach could be challenged by applicants in the courts. However, the research also identified a number of ways in which the practical implementation of the legislation deviates from this intent. This thesis argues that the duty to take reasonable steps may have inadvertently shifted to the applicants themselves, and that whilst litigation may be an effective way to rectify this deviation from intent, it is unlikely to arise in practice. Aside from the well documented barriers to rights access which service users face in a homelessness context, the thesis argues that the statutory phrase ‘reasonable steps’ itself serves to significantly limit the chance of litigation arising. When scrutinising reasonableness, the courts are unlikely to interfere in Local Authority decisions except in the most extreme circumstances.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Law
Cardiff Law & Politics
Subjects: K Law > KD England and Wales
Uncontrolled Keywords: Homelessness law; homelessness decision-making; homelessness prevention; reasonable steps; multiple streams model; street-level bureaucracy; policy implementation.
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 November 2023
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2023 16:25

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