Supreme Court ruling could ensure that vulnerable people sleeping rough is 'a thing of the past'

The judgement focused on a suicidal and critically ill homeless man

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The Independent Online

Homeless people will have a greater chance of securing accommodation from a local authority following a Supreme Court ruling.

The judgment focused on a suicidal and critically ill homeless man who was denied help by Southwark Council.

Britain’s most senior judges criticised the London borough for failing to help 48-year-old Patrick Kanu find a home in 2011 after officials deemed him not vulnerable enough. The ruling was hailed as a victory by homelessness charities since it lowers the threshold for deciding whether someone should receive help.

Mr Kanu had hepatitis B, hypertension and psychotic symptoms when Southwark Council deemed him not in priority need of housing. The Court of Appeal had previously ruled in favour of Southwark Council saying that a person was deemed to be in priority need only if they would suffer more than an “ordinary street homeless person”.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “At the mercy of an almost impossible test, thousands of vulnerable homeless people have been forced to sleep rough or pushed into dangerous situations. Today’s ruling should make this a thing of the past.”

Councillor Richard Livingstone, Southwark cabinet member for housing, said: “We fully accept the Supreme Court’s findings, which will affect how all councils deal with future homelessness decisions,  and we look forward to clearer guidance being issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government.”