The ‘ideal’ homelessness law: balancing ‘rights centred’ and ‘professional-centred’ social policy

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This paper sets out proposals for the ‘ideal’ legal framework to address homelessness in Great Britain (GB), with potential lessons for other countries seeking to pursue rights-based approaches in this field. Exploiting the ‘natural experiment’ conditions generated by post-devolution divergence in key aspects of homelessness law, the paper draws on legal and social scientific learning from England, Scotland and Wales, as well as internationally, to formulate proposals for the optimal rights-based model. We argue that an ideal statutory homelessness system, situated in a less than ideal welfare and housing context, requires a balance to be struck between a robust set of individually-enforceable entitlements, on the one hand, and scope for pro-active, flexible approaches on the part of housing practitioners, on the other. The ten core principles we advance would therefore aim to combine the best of ‘professional-centred’ and ‘rights-centred’ social policy approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-197
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Social Welfare and Family Law
Issue number2
Early online date27 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Homelessness
  • devolution
  • discretion
  • housing
  • rights
  • social policy
  • welfare

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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