Key element of Ealing’s housing allocations policy held discriminatory and unlawful
The High Court has held that a scheme by which a London council ringfenced 20% of available lettings for working households and ‘model tenants’ was discriminatory and unlawful. Steve Broach acted for the claimants in this case, R (H and others) v Ealing LBC  EWHC 841 (Admin).
The claimants were two families (referred to in the judgment as H and others) who together had the ‘protected characteristics’ of disability, age and gender under the Equality Act 2010. As a result of their circumstances the claimants were unable to meet the work requirement of the scheme introduced by the London Borough of Ealing. They also could not be ‘model tenants’ as this only applied to council tenants.
HHJ Waksman QC allowed the challenge to the scheme on all grounds, being that:
- The scheme unlawfully discriminated against women, disabled and elderly persons contrary to sections 19 and 29 of the Equality Act 2010 and unlawfully discriminated against women, disabled and elderly persons and children of single parent carers contrary to Article 14 ECHR (read with Article 8 ECHR) in relation to the working household provisions.
- The Scheme unlawfully discriminated against tenants who do not hold council tenancies contrary to Article 14 ECHR (read with Article 8 ECHR) in relation to the model tenant provisions.
- In adopting and maintaining the Scheme, the Defendant was in breach of its public sector equality duty under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010.
- In adopting and maintaining the Scheme, the Defendant was in breach of the obligations in respect of the welfare of children imposed by section 11 of the Children Act 2004.
The Judge quashed the scheme, meaning that at least until a replacement scheme is put in place Ealing will not be able to ringfence any properties for these groups. As a result the claimants and other families in their position will be able to bid for all available properties in each bidding round.
The judgment has important implications for all councils with housing responsibilities, particularly London councils who have to manage very high demand for social housing in the face of a very limited supply.
To read the judgment please click here.