CM v Westminster CC  (unreported – Central London County Court – 1/12/16)
Keywords: Housing, homelessness
Mrs CM was appealing against Westminster City Council’s decision that she was not homeless on the grounds that she had accommodation available to her. An elderly lady, she had been living in the UK for 16 years and had been granted British Citizenship. She had not seen her children for 30 years. The council’s view, which had been upheld on review, was that she could return to India to reside with her children. They argued that they were entitled to conclude that she did have accommodation available to her because she was not forthcoming with information about her children.
The decision was quashed on all four grounds:
- the council had not made sufficient enquiries
- the council did not properly consider whether Ms CM had any right to occupy her children’s accommodation
- the council had not considered whether it was reasonable for Ms CM to relocate to India having been in the UK for 16 years and being a British Citizen (as per Waltham Forest LBC v Maloba  1 WLR 2079)
- the council had failed to consider cultural issues involved and had required Ms CM to prove her case
This case is representative of trends in the decision-making of increasingly cash-strapped councils towards (unlawfully) expecting vulnerable individuals to prove their entitlement to services, rather than fulfilling statutory duties to make enquiries and/or assessments in order to determine whether the council has a duty to meet their needs.
The full transcript is not available.