County Court finds pre-settled status holders eligible for homelessness assistance under Housing Act 1996 on basis of right to equal treatment

Wednesday 22 May 2024

The successful Appellant was represented by Adrian Berry and Desmond Rutledge of Garden Court Chambers, instructed by Shelter.

Read the full judgment: C v Oldham [2024] EWCC 1

Press coverage in Local Government Lawyer.

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In C v Oldham Council, a path-breaking judgment was handed down on 22 May 2024, following a two-day hearing in February 2024. The County Court disapplied exclusionary provisions of the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) Regulations 2006 (2006 Regulations) and held that the dependent family member of an EU citizen, who entered into the UK under EU law, was granted Pre-settled Status (PSS) by the Home Office prior to Brexit on 31 December 2020, and who continued to reside lawfully in the UK afterwards, was eligible for homelessness assistance under Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996. In so doing, it varied the Respondent Council’s review decision.

The case was seen as a test case on the right to equal treatment under the UK’s EU Withdrawal Agreement, as applied in domestic law by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (2018 Act), with three Intervenors being joined: The 3Million, the AIRE Centre, and the Independent Monitoring Authority (the official guardians of the Withdrawal Agreement).

The Appellant asserted that she came within the personal and material scope of the Withdrawal Agreement and that, accordingly, she could rely on the Agreement’s non-discrimination and equal treatment protection. There was no need to investigate her personal circumstances further. The 2006 Regulations, excluding PSS holders, discriminated against her as compared to British citizens, and should be disapplied under the 2018 Act so that she was eligible for homelessness assistance. The County Court agreed.

In the alternative, she argued that in order to determine whether she was eligible for homelessness assistance, the Respondent, the local housing authority, ought to have assessed her personal circumstances to determine whether assistance was necessary to avoid a breach of rights protected by the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. The County Court agreed.

The case is important not only for those who were dependent family members prior to Brexit, and who seek to rely on Article 17 of the Withdrawal Agreement, but also because it opens the door to all those granted PSS prior to Brexit to argue that that they fall within the personal and material scope of the Withdrawal Agreement, and can rely on the rights to non-discrimination and to equal treatment to secure eligibility for homelessness assistance.

See press coverage in Local Government Lawyer and Shelter's press release here.

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