The Court of Appeal has today handed down judgment in an appeal brought by the London Borough of Hillingdon against the decision of the High Court in July 2018 that a 10 year residence requirement, imposed by Hillingdon in its allocation policy for the provision of social housing, was indirectly discriminatory, on the grounds of race, and therefore unlawful.
The High Court had found that Hillingdon’s Social Housing Allocation Policy discriminated unlawfully on the grounds of race, because only households with at least 10 years’ continuous residence in-borough qualified to join the upper bands of the housing register, and this lengthy requirement was much harder for Irish Travellers to satisfy.
The Court of Appeal, dismissing Hillingdon’s appeal, upheld Supperstone J ‘s finding that held that the residence requirement was indirectly discriminatory, on grounds of race.
The Court of Appeal’s decision today, confirming that the indirect racial discrimination is not lawful as it has not been justified, is the latest chapter in Hillingdon’s attempt to exclude those who cannot show ten years residence from social housing. When their current scheme was introduced in 2013, it did not allow even homeless households without ten years residence to join the waiting list for social housing. Following litigation, the scheme was revised in 2016 to allow those statutorily entitled to a ‘reasonable preference’ for social housing onto the waiting list, including homeless families, but kept rules which made it harder (and in many cases impossible) for these households to get social housing. It is this revised version of the scheme which has now been confirmed by the Court of Appeal to be unlawful.
The Claimants were represented by Ian Wise QC and Azeem Suterwalla of Monckton Chambers. They were instructed by Rebekah Carrier of Hopkin Murray Beskine.
A separate appeal heard at the same time concerned a challenge to the same 10 year residence requirement brought by a refugee who had sought asylum in the UK after fleeing torture and persecution. This challenge also succeeded in the Court of Appeal, with the Court finding that the residence requirement indirectly discriminated against non-UK nationals and that Hillingdon could not show that it was justified. An article about this case can be found here
The judgment can be found here