The Claimant is an extremely vulnerable individual who is a recognised victim of trafficking. She has been subjected to trafficking as a child and as an adult both abroad and in the UK.
The background to the case is set out in detail within the judgment of Mr Justice Fordham handed down on 7th October 2020.
The Claimant is in receipt of NASS support and accommodation. From at least July 2020 the Secretary of State for the Home Department accepted that the accommodation she had been allocated was unsuitable in light of her expecting a child. Assurances were provided following pre-action protocol correspondence that suitable accommodation would be provided to her. However, despite accepting the fact that the accommodation the Claimant was residing at the time was unsuitable for her and her child, and despite providing assurances to re-house the Claimant, no action was taken by the Home Office for more than two months.
The Claimant prepared to lodge urgent proceedings on 24 September 2020, the day before she was to give birth to her child by Caesarean section. However, further assurances were provided to re-house the Claimant on discharge from hospital. The Claimant decided yet again not to pursue action against the Home Office based on the assurances received. However, no accommodation materialised. Owing to the seriousness of the matter, the hospital decided to keep the Claimant over the weekend before discharging her on 28 September 2020.
Late afternoon on the 28 September 2020, the Defendant confirmed that the Claimant would be provided with interim accommodation before being moved into more permanent accommodation the next day.
On 29 September 2020, the Claimant was collected from interim accommodation and taken to the permanent accommodation allocated to her, only to be told that no room was available to her as it had been given to another female. She was then taken back with her four day old baby to the interim accommodation. On 30 September 2020, she was again taken back to the same permanent property but this time she was allocated a room. It was clear that no risk assessment had been carried out to ensure the suitability of the accommodation. The Claimant was allocated a room that seemed to have been used as storage; in the room there was a broken fridge, bunk beds, broken wardrobes, a window that was not closing properly and letting cold air in. More importantly the boiler for the property was housed in the room allocated to the Claimant and it was located just on top of the sleeping area. The room was infested with insects, which resulted in her little baby receiving insect bites. The Claimant and the baby were sleeping on the floor on a mattress.
Despite repeated correspondence with the Home Office in respect of the unsuitability of the room and detailed evidence provided from the Claimant’s psychotherapist and her support worker, no action was taken to provide the Claimant with suitable accommodation. She was visited by housing but no steps were taken to resolve the issues. As a result, the Claimant was left with no choice but to seek intervention from court.
Urgent court proceedings were issued on 6th October 2020. The Claimant sought interim relief, by way of a Mandatory Order for Single Occupancy Accommodation in London. The Claimant required accommodation in London owing to the healthcare and support she was receiving there. The grounds of review relied on s.95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, Regulations 4 and 5 Asylum Seekers (Receptions Conditions) Regulations 2005, and a range of Policy Guidance including, the Asylum Support: Policy Bulletin Instructions, the Healthcare Needs and Pregnancy Dispersal Policy, and the Allocation of Accommodation Policy.
Despite an order being made by Mr Justice Fordham requesting further information/evidence on the same date, no further actions were taken by the Defendant. In particular, the Defendant was unable to provide any documentation to show that the accommodation the Claimant was in had been assessed as suitable.
On 8th October 2020, having heard arguments from both sides the judge made an order for the Claimant to be provided with suitable single occupancy accommodation in London by 10th October 2020. In recognising the Defendant’s failure to engage with the issues for more than two months, which could have avoided intervention by the court, the judge also made the rare order in interim relief proceedings of the Defendant paying the Claimant’s legal costs to-date.
Director Bahar Ata and caseworker Klaudia Gashi of the Luton-based public law team instructed Priya Solanki of One Pump Court Chambers.