August 2016 Right to Destitution Support


A recent case heard by the Admin Court has identified some key principles in establishing when an authority can refuse support to an applicant in the UK in breach of Immigration law.

This case (R{o} V Lambeth LBC) centred on whether O was a child in need for the purposes of the Children Act 1989. Lambeth decided that she was not because they held that O’s mother had access to undisclosed resources and she had failed to explain why funds that had been available to her had stopped.

In considering the case, the judge summarised the approach to be taken as follows

Reasonable steps were needed to identify whether a child was in need

The decision about whether a child was in need was a matter for the judgement of the authority. Appropriate respect was to be given to the judgement of social workers and their reports are to be viewed as those of social care experts not lawyers

There must be a sufficiently diligent enquiry

Little or no weight should be given to witness statements prepared months afterwards

Applications rejected on the basis of the applicant’s credibility need to specify the reasons why the applicant’s claim is not accepted

Fairness requires the applicant to have a chance to respond before any adverse inferences are drawn from the gaps in evidence

An applicant parent must give as much information as possible to assist the assessment

Applying these principles Lambeth was entitled to conclude that O was not destitute.

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