Social Welfare Lawyers in the Centre of Birmingham

R (TW, SW and EM) – v – London Borough of Hillingdon and EHRC (intervener) [2018] EWHC 1791 (Admin) 13 July 2018

The London Borough of Hillingdon (LBH) allocates social housing in accordance with an Allocations Policy from 2016.  Under that Policy, applicants for social housing are placed into Bands (A, B, C or D) according to priority for social housing which they have under the policy.  Obviously a person in Band A has a better chance of being allocated housing than a person in Band B and so on.

The Claimants in this claim were Irish Travellers. TW was a single parent who was placed in Band D because she had not lived in the Borough for 10 years.  EM was a carer for his three adult disabled children and he was informed that he did not meet the criteria to be given social housing.  The Claimants argued that the residence criterion indirectly discriminated against them as Irish Travellers on the ground of race.  The Claimants also argued that LBH, in devising its Housing Allocations Policy, failed to comply with Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 which required LBH to have regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Supperstone J gave the Judgment in the case.  With regard to the residence requirement he stated:-

59.       Whether a residence requirement is lawful will depend on whether it can be justified.  A residence requirement, especially one as long as ten years, is highly likely to have a significant and adverse impact on Irish Travellers.  Irish Travellers are significantly less likely than members of other racial groups to have resided in a particular location in the UK continuously for at least ten years.  However there is no evidence that the Council sought to assess the extent of the disadvantage on Irish Travellers or considered whether it was justified or what might be done to reduce it. Further, there is no evidence from the Council to show that a shorter period than ten years would undermine their stated objectives.

60.       I am firmly of the view that the Council’s evidence fails to justify the impact of the ten-year residential qualification and uplift.

With regard to the Children Act he stated as follows:-

78.       It seems to me that the potential impact of the residency qualification on the education of children of Irish Travellers at the very least required the Council, pursuant to their s.11 duty, to give consideration “to the need to minimise educational disruption”…The Council did not engage with this issue at all.

79.       I am led to the conclusion that the Council breached their duty under s.11 (2) in relation to the imposition and maintenance of the residential qualification and uplift.