Our Public Law & Human Rights solicitors have helped a Kenyan woman with three young children get the support she needs after escaping a violent home.
Alice* had been living in the UK for several years with her three young children. She recently had to leave the family home to escape domestic violence.
Because two of her children are British citizens, Alice had ‘Zambrano’ carer status letting her live and work in the UK. However, she was unable to find work and couldn’t claim benefits to support her children due to her own immigration status.
Alice got financial support from the council after they assessed her children as ‘children in need’ (under section 17 of the Children Act 1989).
A financial crisis
Alice’s immigration status changed and the council withdrew the family’s funding because they thought that she could now apply for benefits. However, they made this decision without doing any more ‘child in need’ assessments or making sure that Alice had received any other benefits.
In fact, Alice’s benefits application was unsuccessful. With her council funding now gone, she had no option but to contact a charity, SafeNet. They gave her family emergency accommodation and helped her get financial help from another charity.
When this temporary charity funding was about to run out, Alice and her family had no other support available and were facing homelessness. SafeNet got in touch with our Public Law solicitors to see if we could help.
How we helped
We looked at Alice’s situation and thought that the council’s decision to withdraw ‘children in need’ funding was unfair.
“It was clear that the council had failed their duty to protect Alice’s children by cutting off funding, without even carrying out the right assessments,” said Katy Moulton, a Public Law specialist. “The fact that Alice and her family were almost homeless because of this decision is totally unacceptable.”
Katy sent a Letter Before Action to the council threatening to challenge the decision at judicial review. She requested that they follow their duty under the Children Act and carry out an urgent ’child in need’ assessment for Alice’s children.
After getting our letter, the council arranged emergency funding to pay Alice’s rent and gave the family a food parcel. They agreed to carry out the necessary assessments, and accepted that they should have done these in the first place before ending Alice’s original funding.
In the meantime, the council have agreed to continue with weekly financial support, including paying for housing costs, while conducting further assessments.
Alice said “thanks very much for your support for me and my children; I’m really glad SafeNet got in contact with you and you have put a stop to my difficulties.”
“We’re glad to see that Alice’s family has finally got the support they’re entitled to and regained some stability in their lives,” said Katy.
If you’ve been affected by an unfair decision from a local council or another public authority, our Public Law & Human Rights team may be able to help. See our Judicial Review page for more information.
*Not client’s real name
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