Westminster City Council v National Asylum Support Service (10 April 2001 – unreported) (CA) and [2002] UKHL 28

Asylum seekers with community care needs are owed a duty under s21 National Assistance Act 1948 and are therefore the responsibility of the local authority and not central government under the auspices of the National Asylum Support Service.

Westminster’s appeal to the House of Lords against this decision was rejected. Their Lordships held that whilst it was clear that that the intention of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 had been to remove the burden of funding the housing of asylum seekers from local authorities and give it to the Secretary of State, the inescapable conclusion of the new s21(1A) NAA 1948 was that local authorities still had a duty to afford assistance where asylum seekers were destitute and infirm. Although s95 of the 1999 Act appeared prima facie to give NASS the power to accommodate all destitute asylum seekers, whether able bodied or infirm, the Asylum Support Regulations 2000 Reg 6(4) made it clear that when assessing under s 95 whether a person applying for support was destitute, account had to be taken of other support available to him. As support for infirm destitute asylum seekers was available under s21, they could not be deemed destitute under s95. There was thus no overlap in responsibilities.


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