Purpose – Lipsky’s street level bureaucrat conceptual framework is employed to assist in understanding the ways in which statutory frontline homelessness practitioners are engaging with the current welfare reform agenda. The paper aims to discuss these issues. Design/methodology/approach – Draws the street level bureaucrat framework. A national baseline survey of homelessness practitioners was followed by targeted qualitative interviews involving 12 local authorities in England. Findings – Homelessness practitioners are facing a twofold crisis due to an increase in service users and corresponding decrease in feasible housing options or resources to tackle this. It was reported that effective service provision for all who required it was becoming increasingly difficult, which in turn fostered an environment in which unlawful gatekeeping practices could thrive. Further, it was found that a service user’s position may be additionally weakened due to the new powers conferred in the Localism Act. Research limitations/implications – Qualitative data were limited to North East Authorities due to limited research resources. Social implications – The current austere climate is negatively impacting upon the delivery of statutory homelessness provision. Differing implementation of the Localism Act will lead to inequitable service outcomes. Originality/value – Application of the street level bureaucrat implementation framework to English homelessness services, a national survey of English frontline service delivery in an austere climate.
International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 8, 2015