To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 22 February 2008, Official Report, columns 1122-3W, on housing benefit: antisocial behaviour, what level of proof is needed for (a) individuals and (b) households to (i) be made the subject of an order for possession on grounds of anti-social behaviour and (ii) be found to have unreasonably refused to engage with the help and support offered as specified in a written warning notice.
The Anti-social Behaviour Act ensures the courts must give particular consideration to the actual or likely effect which the antisocial behaviour has had or could have had on others when considering whether it is reasonable to grant a possession order on the grounds of nuisance or annoyance. This consideration does not remove the duty on the court to consider fairly the case against the tenant who is accused of committing or failing to prevent antisocial behaviour. This might include any particular circumstances that may have led to such conduct, (issues of mental health or drug or alcohol abuse for example). But in doing so, the court must also take into account the effect of their behaviour on their victims and the wider community.
When a sanction in housing benefit is being considered, decisions on whether a household has unreasonably refused to engage with the help and support offered, will normally be made by a panel composed of senior officers drawn from relevant local authority departments and key support agencies. The panel should ensure that the package of support offered was properly determined, that a reasonable attempt has been made to engage with the household and also consider whether the household has good cause for failing to undertake action specified in the warning notice.
The Department for Work and Pensions has issued detailed guidance on all aspects of the operation of the pilot schemes to the eight local authorities in the pilot areas; a copy of which has been placed in the Library.