Council cleverly ending Homelessness Housing Duty?

Having heard concerns about how Harrow council is ending its S193 duty (a part of Homelessness Legislation) and in the public interest, we made the following Freedom of Information request:
Number of cases each year since the 2010 council year where the Harrow council has said that it has discharged its housing duty under the Housing Act and therefore no duty will be owed to the applicant because they have refused an accommodation offer?
After a chase and well above the 20 days time limit (apparent confusions in and apologies from the housing department), we managed to get the following information:
Number of cases where S193 Duty ended because the offer refused: 11 in 2010-11; 10 in 2011-12 but then 20 in the subsequent years till 2014-15 (part).
This led to further questions:
  • Q1: Why such a rise/ upwards trend in the refusals?
  • Q2: How many times a property is offered and refused during these periods?
The council answer to Q1 is that the rise in the upward trend is due to the expectation of customers regarding the quality of the accommodation, for example.
Difficult to believe a sudden increase in the ‘expectation‘ or could it be that in the last few years the properties offered are more of the unacceptable quality?
Very disappointing answer to Q2: “we do hold this information it is not available in the format requested””. The information about how many times a property has been refused could have indicated its overall suitability/ unsuitability.
In view of the council’s inadequate response in this case, the question remains: is the council not in a hurry to cleverly end its duty to the homeless for statistical purposes?
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Harrow homeless situation reflects in the national picture:
The number of homeless people in England is rising partly as private landlords evict tenants and partly because of housing shortages and cuts to benefits. Therefore, more people are now living in government-funded temporary accommodation than at any time since 2009 – in London, four in 10 cases of homelessness are caused by this.