If one is left in housing limbo having applied to a local authority as homeless for an unreasonable amount of time (I've heard it may be six months), one may be entitled to thousands in compensation from the LA.

I am wondering what the legal basis for this is, and whether it would be applicable to inordinate waits for Care Act need assessments (which are admittedly newer and also less commonly invoked than homelessness duties of LAs, so less opportunities for courts to weigh in on them), or if there are independent provisions governing the amount of time that one may be forced to wait for a care need assessment by their local authority, and whether any compensation may be due if it is exceeded.


1 Answer 1


The legal basis for damages would stem from the local authority's duties under Part VII of the Homeless Act 1996, common law duties of care, and obligations under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights as implemented by the Human Rights Act 1998, as affirmed by McDonagh, R (on the application of) v London Borough of Enfield (2018) EWHC 1287 (Admin) although in that case, there was no Article 8 infringement so no damages were awarded.

An Article 8 infringement claim was made possible by Morris v The London Borough of Newham (2002) EWHC 1262 (Admin) and R (Bernard) v Enfield London Borough Council (2002) EWHC 2282 Admin.

Following the same reasoning as the prior cases above, it is obvious that the local authority has a common law duty of care to provide a needs assessment in a reasonable time period, subject to resource constraint, under the Care Act 2014.

It also has a duty to facilitate respect for someone's private and family life. In this case, an inordinate wait for a needs assessment is highly likely to infringe on that right, causing a breach of the duty. However, what constitutes an "inordinate wait" would be a matter for the courts to determine.

The quantum (amount) of damages would also be fact-specific, but it seems likely that any award would be more than merely minimal, to reflect the fact that the statutory provision of care to someone who needs it is a fundamental part of their rights under Article 8, and unnecessary delay to facilitating those needs could be akin to humiliating or degrading treatment.

  • Thanks for this. And This is interesting. I mean article 8 was always in effect long prior to CA2014, so did the duty of care theoretically precede the statute, if the statute was seen as being to give effect to article 8? Mar 25 at 15:00
  • There may not have been a specific duty of care regarding needs assessments prior to CA2014, however there will have been a general common law duty of care, and an Article 8 duty of care, to things in this area - i.e. the need to facilitate adequate care provisions on a statutory basis.
    – Matthew
    Mar 27 at 15:28
  • What’s interesting however is that I’m guessing that in practice this duty of care never found very much comparable fulfilment or legal recognition which if I’m correct would seem to illustrate a certain paradox and contradiction in the logic of the framework of legal fictions that are used for legal reasoning. Mar 27 at 19:10
  • Is the assumption correct? Mar 27 at 19:10

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