A ruling by five judges of the Supreme Court could affect local authorities who attempt to place tenants out of their areas as a result of the government’s £500 per week benefit cap.
Five judges ruled in favour of Titina Nzolameso, a single mother, following a hearing that went against Westminster Council, which sought to move her family from London to accommodation 50 miles away, near Milton Keynes
The Supreme Court this week quashed the local authority’s decision that it had “properly discharged its duty to secure accommodation available for occupation by the appellant”.
Ms Nzolameso is a British citizen who has lived in London for 17 years and her children are settled at schools in Westminster.
She applied for cheaper housing in November 2012 and was offered the alternative accommodation out of the borough in Milton Keynes. After she turned it down, the council said it no longer had a duty to find her a home.
The appeal court ruled in the council’s favour in October, but Ms Nzolameso asked the Supreme Court to reconsider. The case centred on the lack of evidence that the council had sought accommodation closer to Westminster.
She argued that if she were to leave London she would have lost a network of friends that support her when she is unwell with depression, diabetes and high blood pressure.
The full judgment will come after Easter, when local authorities will gain a fuller picture of how it will affect them.
It has been government policy to ‘cleanse’ more affluent areas – which inevitably means most of the capital – by applying benefit caps, making in extremely difficult (if not impossible) for people receiving benefits or those on low income to find affordable accommodation. There have been reports of people being offered ‘alternative accommodation’ hundreds of miles away from areas where they have lived all their lives, and where they have strong family and social connections.
It remains to be seen what impact the judgement of the Supreme Court will have nationwide, and if it is strong enough to halt the progress of ‘cleansing’ by the current fascist government.
Main source: The Independent