Mercy Wanjiku Murua and Peter Gitau Gichura v Croydon London Borough Council (25 October 2001) (unreported) (QBD)

Care and attention – asylum seekers – s21 NAA 1948 – national asylum support service

The responsibility for meeting the care and accommodation needs of disabled asylum seekers, one of whom suffered from thoracic spinal injury and urinary incontinence, and the other from polio, migraines and leg ulceration, rested with the local authority, not the National Asylum Support Service.

Neither asylum seeker could stand without crutches or callipers or perform everyday tasks without using a wheelchair and special adaptations, yet the local authority, having assessed their disabilities, concluded that the criteria for community care services or accommodation under s21 NAA 1948 were not met because the claimants should have been provided for by NASS.

The court held that the local authority had incorrectly applied s 21(1A) NAA 1948, which states that a person to whom S115 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (exclusion from benefits) applies may not be provided with residential accommodation under subsection (1)(a) if his need for care and attention has arisen solely

(a) because he is destitute; or

(b) because of the physical effects, or anticipated physical effects, of his being destitute.

Regulations 6 and 23 of the Asylum Support Regulations 2000 required local authorities to disregard the provision of asylum support when deciding whether a person was destitute and in need of care and attention not otherwise available. The proper test was “whether such need as destitution has caused is made materially more acute by something other than lack of accommodation and funds”. In this case the claimants’ need for care and attention plainly did not exclude them from assistance under the 1948 Act

National Asylum Support Service (on the application of Westminster CC) applied.

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