R (Blackburn Smith) v LB Lambeth [2007] Administrative Court

In Blackburn-Smith v Lambeth LBC [2007] EWHC 767 (Admin), the local authority decided to cease providing a mother and her two children with accommodation. The mother was from Jamaica and had overstayed a visitor’s visa. She had two children with a British citizen, but had no contact with the father thereafter. When the mother lost her eligibility for temporary housing the council assessed the children and decided that she could look after them in Jamaica and the council would pay the fares, or take the children into care if they remained in the UK.

Applying the House of Lords’ approach in R (on the application of G) v Barnet LBC [2004] 2 AC 208, Dobbs J found there was nothing in s17 Children Act 1989 which imposed a duty on the local authority to house the children with the mother. The local authority had taken into account all the relevant factors in carrying out assessments. These included taking into account Art 8 ECHR, making enquiries as to provision of care in Jamaica, and the fact that the mother had the capacity to work .

The court also said that the council took take into account its finite resources and the needs of others, and the fact that it was not meant to be an alternative welfare agency for those who had been disbenefited.

(This from a paper - Access To Housing Outside the Housing Act 2007 Stephen Cragg )

Dobbs J. held that:

” the defendant’s powers [under s.17 Children Act 1989] were never intended to enable it to act as an alternative welfare agency in circumstances where Parliament had determined that the claimant should be excluded from mainstream benefits;...” [36].

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