The High Court today handed down judgment in R (KS & AM) v London Borough of Haringey.The claim was brought by a mother and her youngest child who is six years old, is severely disabled and has no sense of danger. Children’s services recognized the danger that the current accommodation presents, particularly the danger of the child falling from one of the two the balconies at the front and rear of the property. A fire risk assessment found that it was not appropriate to seal the balcony doors and so the risk of serious injury from a fall remained. Children’s services therefore requested that the authority’s housing department provided the family with suitable accommodation. The judgment was concerned with the relationship between the obligations owed to the family by the local authority’s children’s services and its housing department. It was found by the court that the housing authority was not entitled to treat the request that it provides appropriate accommodation as a request for a review of its housing allocation decision and put the family on a waiting list with little or no prospect of securing suitable accommodation. The court also found that where the housing department did not act on children’s services request for appropriate accommodation for the family, the children’s services department was required to formulate a plan setting out how the unaddressed needs of the family were to be met. This is an important judgment which clarifies the high degree of co-operation required by law between children services and housing departments where they are dealing with vulnerable children. It will hopefully help to avoid the longstanding problem of families with such vulnerable children being passed from one public body to another without either taking responsibility for their pressing needs.
A link to the judgment of the High Court is available here Monckton Chambers Ian Wise QC acted for the claimants, instructed by Rebekah Carrier of Hopkin Murray Beskine.