R (Edwards) v Birmingham City Council  EWHC 173 (Admin).
R (Edwards) v Birmingham City Council  EWHC 173 (Admin)
This was a claim for judicial review involving four applicants who had sought homelessness assistance from Birmingham, all of whom claimed to be ‘homeless at home’ on the basis that they had accommodation but that it was not reasonable for them to continue to occupy.
The challenge was primarily directed at the general practices and policies which Birmingham had in place to deal with homeless applications which, it was said, gave rise to an unacceptable risk that applicants would not be dealt with lawfully and failed to reflect the immediate and urgent nature of the duties to make inquiries and provide interim accommodation under Part VII Housing Act 1996.
Hickinbottom J dismissed the claim for in two cases (where permission had been granted) and refused permission in the remaining two. Whether the conditions for making inquiries into a homeless application and providing interim accommodation were satisfied were matters for the local housing authority to determine subject to review on conventional public law grounds, as opposed to a matter of precedent fact for the court to decide.
On the facts of the individual cases Birmingham had, for the most part, not acted in breach of its statutory duties and where errors were made, they were rectified quickly meaning that relief was not warranted. As such the cases under consideration did not provide sufficient evidence for the claim that Birmingham was guilty of systemic failings.