19th December 2018

In this case, an ineligible Lithuanian man sought to challenge a Council's decision not to provide him with homelessness assistance. His argument was that a duty was owed to him under either the Care Act 2014, or the S1 of the Localism Act 2011 - to avoid a breach of his rights under the Human Rights Act 1998.

The man had come to the United Kingdom from Lithuania in 2011, and had found his own accommodation. However he was hospitalised by injuries received during two violent assaults. When he was discharged from hospital, he was homeless, and was accommodated by a charity in church halls. He tried unsuccessfully to hold down a job, and when he found he couldn't continue to work, applied for and received personal independence payments. These lasted for 2 years, but were then withdrawn by the DWP. He appealed this decision.

Meanwhile, he approached Hammersmith and Fulham for homelessness help. They didn't respond. A letter was sent to the Council warning that a judicial review would be sought, but this was also not replied to. The applicant asked the court to force the Council to provide resources and housing, pending the judicial review. A couple of days later, the Council issued a formal decision on his homeless application, saying that he was not eligible. Even though he was notified that he had a right of review of that decision, he did not request a review. Instead he continued to pursue his judicial review application, claiming that:

Both arguments failed. Duties would not be owed to him under the Care Act 2014, because his need was only for housing, and not for care and support. And although the Council had powers under the S1 of Localism Act 2011, it cannot exercise those powers if prohibited to do so by another piece of legislation. In this case, Section 185 Housing Act 1996 deals with ineligibility for homelessness help, and it prohibits housing authorities from providing help to ineligible persons from abroad. The only exception to this would be if an applicant's convention rights would be infringed, and the judge did not except that this was the case here.

The Council had offered to pay the costs of repatriating the man to Lithuania, as he had family there, and none in the UK. If he returned to Lithuania, he would receive a basic level of welfare and health provision - and in this way, a breach of his convention rights could be avoided. The man would not be at risk of inhumane or degrading treatment if he returned to Lithuania. If the applicant remained in the UK and was destitute, this would be as a result of his failure to return to Lithuania, rather than as a result of Hammersnith and Fulham's actions.

 


 

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