Thursday Law Report: Council's accommodation policy was unlawful

2 December 1999 Regina v Newham London Borough Council, ex parte Sacupima and others Queen's Bench Division, Crown Office List (Dyson J) 26 November 1999

THE COUNCIL'S decision to discharge its duty to the applicants to provide suitable temporary accommodation under section 188 of the Housing Act 1996 by securing bed-and-breakfast accommodation at seaside resorts was flawed, because it failed to consider the effect of location in particular on matters such as children's education, or employment of an applicant or members of his family.

The applicants' applications for judicial review of decisions of the respondent council to secure seaside bed-and-breakfast accommodation for them were allowed.

The applicants were all homeless persons who had, until becoming homeless, been resident in the London Borough of Newham. In discharging its duty to the applicants under section 188 of the Housing Act 1996 to provide them with suitable temporary accommodation, pending a decision whether it owed them a duty to provide suitable longer-term accommodation under section 193 of the Act, the council informed the applicants that bed-and- breakfast accommodation had been secured for them at seaside resorts such as Great Yarmouth, Brighton and Southend.

All of the applicants were in receipt of income support, and were unable to afford the cost of travelling to Newham to continue with schooling, employment or medical care of themselves or members of their families.

Each applicant sought judicial review of the council's decision to secure bed-and-breakfast accommodation at the seaside, on the ground that the conclusion that such accommodation was suitable was taken without regard to all relevant considerations and/or was Wednesbury unreasonable, and was therefore unlawful.

It was submitted for the council that it was its policy to turn to bed- and-breakfast accommodation to discharge its duty under section 188 only as a last resort, when no other form of temporary accommodation was available. The council belonged to the Bed and Breakfast Information Exchange (Babie). The council could not pay more than the agreed Babie rate without breaking the agreement, and also because it could not afford to pay more.

When there were no hotel rooms of the appropriate standard available at the Babie rate in Newham, or in other parts of London, the council had to look outside London, and such accommodation was often available at seaside resorts. The council only considered that temporary bed-and- breakfast accommodation out of the borough or out of London was unsuitable if there was a "serious reason" for doing so. Serious reasons in that context existed where there was a "serious risk to the life or health of the applicant, his family or another", and did not include educational or employment reasons.

Jan Luba (Hereward & Foster) and Stephen Knafler (the Aina Khan Partnership) for the applicants; David Matthias and Steven Woolf (Solicitor to Newham Council) for the council.

Mr Justice Dyson said that the phrase "suitable accommodation" in the Act meant suitable for the applicant, not suitable for the authority, and there was nothing in the Act which indicated that the authority's duty under section 188 should in any way be qualified by reference to its resources.

Although financial constraints and limited housing stock were matters that could be taken into account in determining suitability, there was a minimum in terms of the needs and circumstances of the particular family below which the standard of accommodation could not fall.

The policy applied by the council in the present cases prevented it from giving a proper consideration to the question whether, on the grounds of its location, bed-and-breakfast accommodation outside the district fell below the line of what could be regarded as suitable accommodation. It could not be right, and was unreasonable in the Wednesbury sense, not even to consider the effect of location in particular on matters such as children's education, or employment of the applicant or members of his family.

The decisions taken in the instant cases were, accordingly flawed, and would be quashed.

Kate O'Hanlon,

Barrister

Arts and Entertainment
Stewart Lee (Gavin Evans)

comedy

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

film
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment

film
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...