Lambeth’s inadequate Equality Impact Assessment re: Shortlife evictions

by More Street Cleaning and less Social Cleansing, please

Despite the known, forced homelessness that has resulted from Lambeth’s recall and sale of Housing Co-op homes, and considering the extreme physical and mental stress that many residents have been subjected to under this policy, I presume the following Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) is why Lambeth don’t consider there to be enough vulnerable people in the Shortlife Co-op communities to justify ensuring relevant Shortlife officers undergo CRB checks

By not requiring officers to undergo these checks, Lambeth presumably considers there to be very few vulnerable people in the Shortlife community.  We beg to disagree! If you have any prolonged contact with Shortlife, you’ll know this is a wrong assumption… Shortlife residents are members of self-supporting groups made up of many clearly vulnerable people.

In ‘Stage 1, point 1.5’, it says: ‘…The ultimate negative impact on all shortlife tenancies is eviction.  In the vast majority of cases this will not be necessary as occupiers accept the alternative accommodation offered…’

Tell that to our colleague who had a heart attack a few days before he was due in court. And it wasn’t just a heart attack – he ended up in a coma for many weeks and is now severely disabled in hospital. Actually, you may not be able tell him anything because he’s lost his hearing, and it’s not clear how much he understands of what’s being communicated anymore.

On a cheerier note though, Lambeth are now threatening to take imminent unchallenged possession of his home and force the eviction of his housemates – so that’s more filthy lucre in Lambeth’s back pocket, at least. Every cloud blah blah blah…

Back to the EIA, reading through the document, it becomes clear that it acknowledges that there is no data available for the majority of Shortlife households… hardly a thorough assessment then, is it?

Lambeth repeatedly told the press that Shortlife Co-ops were consulted regarding recall, but despite the assurance in this document that consultations would take place, nothing ever materialised. And if that fundamental bit of democracy-in-action didn’t get followed through with, how can we trust anything Lambeth’s Equality Impact Statement says?

So, here is the (inadequate) EIA, written up by Lambeth, regarding the Shortlife recall policy formulated in 2007. As far as we can see, there isn’t a more recent assessment.

One last thing… the assessment says that all the evictions will be carried out by the secondaries – Family, L&Q etc etc, but it didn’t happen like this. Essentially, it appears that there is NO Equality Impact Assessment associated with Lambeth council’s eviction of Co-op residents. Oops.

This EIA was on the Lambeth Council website November 2013, though it doesn’t seem to be there now. It was a downloadable doc at this URL:

It was originally formatted to a template, so we’ve had to tidy it up a bit, however, we didn’t remove or change any text and we haven’t created any gaps or spaces… most of the assessment simply wasn’t filled in at all.

Policy: Shortlife recall Strategy

Department: Housing, Regeneration and Environment

Lead Officer Carrying out the assessment: Quality and Equalities Manager

Others to be involved in the process i.e. provide the challenge function:     Interim Assistant Director, Strategy and Partnerships
Stage 1

Risk assessment of discrimination or adverse impact
This section needs to be completed at the start of the development of Policies, Procedures, Practices and Processes (to include projects, strategies, service reviews and re-structures)

1.1     Please provide a brief description of the policy and its key objectives.

Lambeth has been pursuing a policy of disposing of its shortlife properties since 1997.  Housing Committee at that time took a decision to a recall programme of about 1,000 properties.  The policy has resulted in just over 50% of the 1,000 properties either being returned to Lambeth for use in general stick, being disposed of at auction, being sold to Housing Associations for refurbishment.  The current strategy dated 22nd November 2007, and it is this strategy that is being risk assessed against discrimination and or adverse impact.  The strategy states that “it is particularly focussed on the disposal of the “remaining” properties (388).  

1.2      Please state whether this policy is likely to be equally accessed by all different equalities groups or affect all employees in the same way? If not can this be justified?
Please see Appendix 1, Section 1  for a full description of equalities groups.

The shortlife recall strategy concentrates primarily on the 388 properties.  The properties are mainly large Victorian street properties, some of which are divided into separate self contained units, some shared houses in multiple occupation and the remaining being single unit dwellings.  

The properties are held under short term licences to RSL’s who manage them in line with their policy and procedure.  The RSL’s do on occasion pass the day to day management of the shortlife property to another agency, a co-op or small RSL.

The outcome of the strategy is that the options for the legitimate occupier of the property is that they have :

Opportunity to purchase the property

An offer of reasonable alternative accommodation that meets need assistance to secure accommodation in the private rented sector

It is assumed that most households will over the next eighteen months to two years be provided with a suitable offer of alternative accommodation in accordance with Lambeth’s Allocations Property and needs will be taken into consideration based on the policy and procedures in place.

There will be a need to look very closely at rent arrears, where the shortlife tenant may in rent arrears, how will this impact on gaining alternative accommodation?

Currently the intent of the strategy, the consultation process, the terms of licence treats all shortlife tenants in the same way.

Statistical analysis has been carried out on all current live applications in B and C against shortlife live applicants in Band C.  All shortlife applicants have been put on the housing register as Band C.

Gender of Head of Household

                          % of live Band C apps    % of live Shortlife Band C apps
Male                               63%                                                 59%
Female                          41%                                                 37%

Known disability in household

                           % of live Band C apps    % of live Shortlife Band C app
Disabled                         46%                                              15%
Not disabled                 53%                                               85%

The biggest significance of those all those currently in Band C with active applications.  In effect those in shortlife are being given the same priority who are disabled over this statistical sample.  Bearing in mind that the data is based on “Group C supply transfers – Register” which is “moved on from supported housing and care leavers etc”

The ethnic groups are those taken from all those current in Band C with active applications – this is not a full spectrum of ethnicity

                                    % of live Band C apps    % of live Shortlife Band C app
White                                         26                                                15
Black African                          26                                                29
RNR                                            10                                                 10
Other                                           5                                                   2
Black Caribbean                     12                                                  15
Mixed                                           7                                                   10
White Other                               7                                                   10
Irish                                              3                                                    2
Asian Pakistan                          1                                                    2
Asian Other                                3                                                    2


There is no discernable difference on the age range of those as a % of live Band C applicants as those as a % of shortlife Band c applicants

                                     % of band c apps    % of live shortlife band c apps
21 – 30                                   7                                                 2
31 – 40                                 33                                               27
41 – 50                                 29                                               35
51 –  60                                 23                                               27
61 – 70                                   8                                                6

Are there any obvious barriers that are likely to restrict access to the service, employment or benefits of the policy to different equalities groups?

No.  However, it has to be pointed out that each RSL with the current responsibility for your property will be in communications with their own shortlife tenants.  This will include sending a notice of seeking possession.  The responsibility for returning the property to Lambeth rests with the RSL.  
Each household will be contacted or visited to establish the legal status as an occupant and the options that may be available to your household.   This programme of consultation involves:
To reiterate, rent arrears might be an issue and the issue of rent arrears needs to be determined with the household.

1.4    Does the policy target or exclude any specific equality group? If so, can you justify this exclusion?

No.  A data collection exercise of the household makeup and profile of each shortlife tenancy is currently in place.  The data held by the RSL’s on each of their shortlife tenancies in question is not robust.  
A programme of consultation has begun which involves meeting with tenants and explaining their legal rights to them around the recall strategy.  This is being carried out by the shortlife team.   
This consultation is continuing for those areas where the shortlife team are yet to engage.
It is currently unclear as to the household profile of the tenancies but currently data is held on 1/3 of the 388 properties following visits.
The team are due to produce a newsletter/leaflet explaining what is happening.  This to be in plain English and if appropriate following more information on the household profile be offered in different formats/languages to meet need.

1.5     How will this policy promote equal opportunities and good relationships     between all equalities groups?
The ultimate negative impact on all shortlife tenancies is eviction.  In the vast majority of cases this will not be necessary as occupiers accept the alternative accommodation offered.  For those shortlife tenancies who are given an offer of permanent accommodation offered in accordance with the Allocation Policy as regards shortlife occupancy, would be as part of the Allocations Policy under Part V1 Housing Act 1996.
It is welcomed that the shortlife team are attempting to deal with shortlife tenancies in a band higher than C under choice based lettings allocations policy.
The access time allocated to households on the choice based lettings system should be sufficient to enable them to:
offer and take up advocacy support if the household are not in a position to access the CBL site
enable households to stay in the area if they so wish – community group support, continuity of medical care, schools, family support, faith groups, or are older and are used to living in their particularly area and a move might impact on their welfare
It is not clear if there are people living in the tenancies who may be disabled and have aids and adaptations to support them.  Or indeed if aids and adaptations to support them have been installed – the issue of supporting people at home will need to taken into consideration during consultation and access to CBL

1.6     Based on your analysis what is the proposed Impact Assessment Level (High, Medium, Low) of the policy?
Please see Appendix 1, Section 2  for a full description of Impact Assessment Levels

Stage 2

Use of research and data to predict impact
This section focuses on identifying whether the proposed policy may have an adverse impact on equality of opportunity for some equalities groups or on relations between different equalities groups and how this can be addressed.
2.1    Please provide a response to the following questions:
(i)    What is the purpose (aims / objectives) of the policy?

(ii)     Who does the policy intend to benefit and how?

(iii)     Who might be adversely affected by the policy?

(iv)    Who are the main stakeholders in relation to this policy?

(v)     What outcomes do these stakeholders want from this policy?

(vi)    How do these outcomes support or hinder other policies / values /     objectives of the public authority?

(vii)     Does the policy have any specially designed measures to promote     equality of opportunity and Community Cohesion?

What are the conclusions from a thorough audit and analysis of available research about the impact the policy would have on different equalities groups?
Please see Appendix 1, Section 3 for a more detailed description of the     information that should be included in this section.

What are the main conclusions from the consultation on the proposed policy?
Please see Appendix 1, Section 4  for a more detailed description of     Information     that should be included in this section.

2.4    Based upon the above research, analysis and consultation, what are     the     main conclusions of the equality impact assessment?

Stage 3

Options and decisions on proposal to implement policy

This section should set out what you need to do to deal with any adverse impact or identified lack of positive impact of the policy.

Does the Equality Impact Assessment reveal that:

The policy unlawfully discriminates?
There is an adverse impact upon one or more equalities groups or sub-groups?
The policy fails to promote equality of access or opportunity?
Can any of the above be justified?

Please describe that the measures that you might take to lessen any adverse impact?

Please note that in your response you will need to consider the following:
Ways of dealing with any adverse impact
Where the adverse impact is likely to be unlawful, the policy or the specific element of the policy must be changed or abandoned, or another way found to meet the policy objectives
If the assessment reveals that some equality groups or sub-groups have distinct needs, can these be met either within the proposed policy or by separate means?

Please state if the Policy should be implemented?

Please note that the following factors need to considered in the decision to implement the policy:

How important is the function or policy?
What is the potential impact of the function or policy?
Can any adverse impact be avoided or lessened by taking other steps to compensate?
Are there any alternatives?
Is the adverse impact justified within the wider aims of the overall function or policy?
Will the Policy be a barrier in promoting good relations between different groups?

3.4    What are the key recommendations of the equality impact assessment?

3.5    Please use this section to develop an Action Plan to implement the key      recommendations of the equality impact assessment:
Please note that this Action Plan should address any concerns or issues related to equality and diversity that have been identified in the equality impact assessment
This plan should be integrated into the appropriate divisional or departmental Service Plan.

Actions Required:                                                                                                                   Timeframe:                                                                                                                                       Resources required / Costs:                                                                                                                  Lead Officer
Responsible:                                                                                                                    Relevant Performance Indicator:

Stage 4

Arrangements for future monitoring and review

Please use this section to outline in detail the monitoring that will take place as the policy is implemented and the process that will be followed to review the monitoring information.

4.1    What are the key performance indicators or targets that will be used to monitor the effectiveness of this policy?

4.2    Can existing monitoring procedures that you are using be adapted to collect the additional information required in relation to this policy?

4.3    What monitoring techniques and tools will be most effective?

4.4    Who will need the monitoring information?

4.5    In what format will the monitoring information be published and who will     review it?

Appendix 1

Section 1                                                                                                                                        Description of equalities groups that should be considered in the impact assessment

Race    BME Communities (if general), Black African, Refugee Communities etc. (if specific)
Disability    Disabled people (if general), people with learning disabilities, Blind/Visually Impaired people etc.
Gender    Women, Female headed households, Men, Transgender people
Age    People over state retirement age, 16-21 year olds, Children
Sexual Orientation    Lesbians, Gay men, Bisexual People
Religion    Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs etc

Section 2                                                                                                                                                   Full description of Impact Assessment Levels

High Level Impact Assessment
If a policy is considered to have a potentially high impact in relation to the equality issues/categories then it will need a very detailed and thorough review.  This is likely to involve:
Research / consultation based on the specific policy proposals
Research / consultation across the full range of equality groups (for example, different ethnic groups, faith groups, different sexes, disabled and non-disabled people, gay men, lesbians and different age groups).  There should be justification for gaps in research/consultation, perhaps the potential impact of the Policy on one group at stage one was low and therefore you do not need to provide as extensive consultation at this stage.
Significant critical friend challenge from outside the organisation

Medium Level Impact Assessment
If a policy is considered to have a potentially medium impact in relation to the equality issues/categories: Needs a reasonably detailed and thorough review.  This is likely to involve:
Consultation based on the specific Policy proposals
Consultation across a range of equality groups.
Some degree of external challenge.

Low Level Impact Assessment
If the policy is considered to have a potentially low impact in relation to the equality issues/categories: Needs a review that is likely to involve:
Previous research and consultation
Addressing issues across the range of equality groups.

Section 3                                                                                                                                       Information on Data and Research that is reviewed

In your response in Stage 2.2 of the template you should please mention what available data, research, results of consultation etc. that you have reviewed or carried out in the process of developing the policy and what does it indicate on the take-up, usage of services and other outcomes of the proposed policy.

This section of the template should also be used to clearly identify and document gaps and inadequacies in the data, explain how these will be addressed and how the future impact of the policy will be monitored.

Please note that you might need to conduct research as a part of the Equality Impact Assessment. Where you have identified at Stage 1 that the potential impact of the policy is high you will have to justify where you have not conducted research.

Section 4                                                                                                                                         Information on consultation

Stage 2.3 of the Template should be used to describe how you have consulted with key stakeholders in the process of developing the policy to obtain their views on how robust the policy is and how well it will meet the needs of all equalities groups.

If you have any relevant recent consultation / research that has been gathered in the process of developing the policy then it can be used for the Equality Impact Assessment.  If you do not then you will have to undertake consultation and /or research as part of the assessment process if you have identified a potentially medium or high impact of the policy on different equalities groups at stage 1. You will need to justify where you have not done so.

The depth and degree of any consultation and / or research will be determined by the relevance that the policy has to different groups. Those who are likely to be directly affected by the policy should be consulted, e.g. service users and potential users from the different equalities groups, appropriate staff and relevant interest groups.
Please see the Corporate Consultation Toolkit  for further guidance on effective approaches to consultation.