R (on the application of BLANKSON) v CROYDON LBC (2015)
Keywords: Children Act
A single parent with indefinite leave to remain but NRPF sought subsistence payments under s.17 Children Act from the local authority for her two children stating that she could not afford to feed or clothe them. The local authority had denied interim relief, had not yet completed an assessment and indicated that, when completed, they intended to take the view that the mother had exaggerated the hardship suffered. The court accepted the hardship and ordered an interim payment of £50 per week.
The local authority failed to file any evidence but contended that, on visiting, social workers had found ample food and that the applicant owned a car. The applicant explained that the food had been bought with a loan from a co-worker and that the car was a present from a friend who paid for the insurance. She earned £580 per month and had no other income. Her rent was £850 per month, had not been paid for several months and the family were 4-6 weeks away from eviction. They had had no power for two days, unable to afford prepaid utility cards and the children had no winter clothes and insufficient money to buy school dinners.
It was held that there was a strong arguable case that the local authority had breached its statutory duty to provide an assessment. The local authority was ordered to provide an assessment within a week and given four weeks to produce a more long-term view and file evidence for a full hearing.
In the interim, a subsistence payment of £50 per week was ordered for food, with the acknowledgement that this fell short of an amount which would sufficiently recognise the difficulties faced by the applicant. Additionally the local authority was ordered to use its best efforts to provide suitable accommodation within a reasonable distance of the children’s school once a notice of eviction had been served.