Joshua Swirsky defends successful local authority in judicial review involving interplay between the Housing Act 1996 and the Care Act 2014

13 January 2023

Joshua Swirsky defended the successful local authority in a judicial review about its withdrawal of funding of temporary accommodation (which had been allowed to continue since 2016). The case considered how a local authority’s obligations under the Care Act 2014 interact with its obligations under Parts VI and VII of the Housing Act 1996.

The court found that the local authority did not have a duty or power under the  Care Act 2014, by reason of s23,  to meet the claimant’s needs by funding temporary accommodation if it was required to perform functions in respect of the claimant under the Housing Act 1996; namely, the provision of an allocation scheme and the duty to investigate a homelessness application made by the claimant.

The judge relied on the case of R (on the application of Idolo) v Bromley LBC in which Joshua Swirsky also acted for that successful local authority.

Background to the case

The claimant, Mr Campbell was born in 1982 suffers from Retinitis Pigmentosa and is partially sighted. Since February 2016 the London Borough of Ealing has been funding his ‘temporary accommodation’.

 The local authority conducted numerous assessments of his needs. There was no dispute that the claimant has at all times had eligible care and support needs. However, his family and partner were meeting those needs so he declined local authority-managed care or direct payments, and refused to cooperate with a financial assessment.

In February 2022, the local authority gave Mr Campbell 8 weeks’ notice to withdraw its funding of his accommodation. Earlier, in November 2021, Mr Campbell had commenced County Court proceedings under the Equality Act 2010.

Judicial review application

Mr Campbell applied to judicially review the local authority’s decision from February 2022. He claimed that he has had a need for care and support under the Care Act, which requires him to be provided with accommodation for effective delivery of that care and support.

He also stated that the temporary accommodation was unsuitable.

He argued:

  • by withdrawing funding for accommodation to be provided, the local authority had wrongly concluded that it did not owe a duty to provide, or fund the provision of, accommodation under the Care Act 2014, or that it had failed to conduct a proper assessment
  • the local authority’s decision was taken for an improper purpose and/or amounted to victimisation under the Equality Act 2010.

The local authority contended that:

  • Mr Campbell was not entitled to accommodation being provided under the Care Act 2014 because he is eligible for housing under either Part VI or Part VII of the Housing Act 1996.
  • he has never been assessed as having a care and support need for accommodation, and his care and support needs are not accommodation-related.
  • its decision to withdraw funding of Mr Campbell’s accommodation was not taken for an improper purpose, nor does it amount to victimisation.
HHJ O'Connor's judgment

HHJ O’Connor stated that the need for accommodation is not a need for care and support under the Care Act.

He pointed out that local authorities have the power to provide accommodation under the Care Act 2014 when accommodation is required to effectively deliver care and support.(R (Aburas) v London Borough of Southwark and R (SG) v London Borough of Haringey and the Secretary of State for the Home Department).

However that power is limited by section 23 of the Care Act 2014. And Mr Campbell’s need for accommodation was no different to any other homeless or potentially homeless person’s.

At the relevant time, the local authority was required to provide Mr Campbell with housing under the Housing Act. He remains on the local authority’s housing register and makes occasional bids; all of which have been unsuccessful.

He has also made several homelessness applications to the local authority. However, he has always withdrawn these before the London Borough of Ealing’s statutory inquiries have been completed. He has also refused direct offers of accommodation made by the local authority.

HHJ O’Connor found that the decision to withdraw funding of Mr Campbell’s accommodation was not victimisation contrary to section 27 Equality Act 2010. He found on the facts that the decision to withdraw funding was made because the local authority now realised that it was not under a duty to provide accommodation

Read the judgment in full in R (Campbell)v Ealing LBC (2023) EWHC 10 (Admin)