June 2010 – Social Care Support for Asylum Seekers
Many local authorities have been reviewing the support they provide to asylum seekers and persons from abroad under section 21 National Assistance Act, following a decision by the House of Lords in 2008 (R(M) v Slough). In a recent case involving Hillingdon LBC the Court examined how this judgement should be applied to a totally blind asylum seeker who had been found by the authority not to have a need for ‘care and attention’.
Hillingdon Social Services assessed that they could help the claimant move to new accommodation provided by the Asylum Support Service using section 29 National Assistance Act and the Chronically Sick & Disabled Persons Act 1970. This would involve only limited transitional support, after which the claimant would no longer require any personal care.
The Court of Appeal held that asylum support is meant to be residual – a local authority can only consider the provision of services combined with accommodation provided by the Asylum Support Service if they have already assessed that the person is not in need of care and attention and is therefore not covered by section 21.
Interestingly, the Court also stated that the extent to which the law has been modified since the Slough decision is ‘very modest’. A person’s need for care and attention is to be assessed by reference to their current needs, not their likely future needs.
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