Disability legal win overturned

Egyptian stone carving showing a goddess with long hair and feather wings along her arms.  She is wearing a heavy necklace, bracelet and headband with a feather tucked into each.  She is surrounded by hieroglyphs (Egyptian writing in symbols) and various objects.
Ma’at, Egyptian goddess of justice, from whom the scales of justice originated

We’re scandalised that a disability rights ruling we helped with and previously reported, Disabled woman wins housing under human rights, has been overturned by the courts. It was the precedent case of GS v Camden (2016), a disabled homeless refugee woman wheelchair-user supported by WinVisible. 

It has been overturned (cancelled). See: Localism Act power does not enable a local authority to provide health services

What happened:

  • Despite arriving in the UK before the law changed, Ms GS was hit by the Immigration Act 2014 banning people from abroad from claiming Housing Benefit or Council help with homelessness. 
  • Then, Camden denied her need for care, support and accommodation under the Care Act because during the assessment, she said she could manage everything herself — which was not realistic. 
  • The court ruled that although accommodation could not be provided under the Care Act unless the disabled person already had a need for care and support, nevertheless it could be provided under section 1 of the Localism Act 2011, which gives Councils more powers to do what they see fit.
  • In later cases in 2018 and 2020, the court ruled that the decision in GS v Camden was wrong, as the Localism Act was not meant to override the intention of other laws passed by Parliament, including the Immigration Act. 
  • So these later court rulings have reinforced the government’s racist policies of denying housing and other resources to people in need based on their immigration status, as well as Councils refusing to take responsibility for people’s welfare.
  • However, the Council would have a duty to provide accommodation if a disabled person has a need for care and support under the Care Act and these needs could not be met without them being housed.

The good news is that for now, the government has shelved plans to attack the Human Rights Act.

WinVisible is asylum-seeking, refugee, immigrant and UK-born disabled women together.  We support the campaigns by our sister organisations with others, against the government’s Rwanda plan, detention and deportation, and we want abolition of No Recourse to Public Funds to ensure benefit rights for all.

** With many thanks to Julie Cornes and Jamie Burton, QC.

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