Irwin Mitchell’s Public Law & Human Rights team successfully challenged a local council’s refusal to provide housing for a disabled couple, who fled religious violence in their home country and faced homelessness in the UK.
Sheikh Hayat and Iffat Naureen were Ahmadi Muslims who had fled religious persecution in Pakistan and had come to the UK to seek refuge. Ms Naureen had significant mobility difficulties as a result of chronic arthritis and was only able to walk short distances unaided.
Mr Hayat was registered blind and suffered from depression, asthma and a prostate problem. They sought asylum in the UK but their initial applications were rejected and as a result, they had their Home Office accommodation withdrawn.
Local Council's Decision Challenged
Facing homelessness, they were forced to rely on accommodation provided by the Boaz Trust, a charity serving destitute asylum seekers in Manchester. However, the extreme pressures on the charity’s resources meant that the accommodation was only available for a limited period and, given the couple’s disabilities, the accommodation was only suitable as a short term option.
As a result of their asylum status, the couple were not allowed to work or to claim state benefits. They therefore had no option but to present themselves to their local social services department and to ask the local authority to provide accommodation in accordance with its duties to meet the needs of disabled people.
Salford City Council’s social services department carried out an assessment, but concluded that the couple’s needs were not such that they called for accommodation to be provided. The couple therefore approached Irwin Mitchell’s Public Law & Human Rights team, who wrote to the Council challenging this refusal to provide accommodation.
How We Helped
The Council stood by its original assessment and so our team issued an urgent application for judicial review, seeking an injunction forcing the Council to provide the couple with accommodation pending a full judicial review hearing. The urgent application was successful and the Court ordered Salford City Council to provide accommodation for the couple while the full court case was prepared.
As a result of ongoing legal arguments, many of them raised by the Council, there was considerable delay in the matter proceeding to a full court hearing. In the meantime, the couple continued their fight for asylum status and they were eventually successful, being granted leave to remain in the UK.
Success After Being Granted Asylum
By this time, they had benefitted from some 14 months of accommodation under the court order, and were now free to seek ‘mainstream’ benefits and accommodation having been granted asylum.
Mr Hayat commented: "To protect your rights, it is important to get a good lawyer. Irwin Mitchell’s team is knowledgeable and professional and they presented our case with passion to achieve spectacular success. I would like to thank the whole team – God blessed them with enormous success."
Dave Smith of the Boaz Trust said: "The Boaz Trust is not set up to support people who have significant care needs, as Sheikh and Iffat did. Having to deal with complex needs stretches our resources to breaking point and puts a great strain on support staff.
"Without the expert help of Irwin Mitchell in advocating for their rightful entitlements, we would eventually have been forced to evict an extremely vulnerable couple into homelessness and destitution."
For expert advice on matters relating to community care law and refugee support, please contact Mathieu Culverhouse of Irwin Mitchell's public law team on 0370 1500 100 or complete our enquiry form
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