Council acted wrongly in referring child to homeless unit

The House of Lords upheld a Court of Appeal decision that a local authority’s children’s service unit had not fulfilled its duty of care to a homeless child, just by referring him to a homeless person’s unit. The claimant had presented himself to Southwark council’s children’s services department asking for urgent assessment under section 17 of the Children Act 1989 and immediate accommodation under section 20(1). The assessment initially concluded that, as he was 17 and not in fulltime education, accommodation provided by the homeless person’s unit was sufficient.