The Supreme Court has overturned a council’s refusal to accommodate a mother of five in Westminster.
In Nzolameso v City of Westminster, the woman had lived in the London borough for four years in a four bedroom home, relying on housing benefit to pay her rent. But when her housing benefit was cut in 2012, she could no longer afford to live there and the family become homeless. The central London borough City of Westminster was obliged to provide her with alternative accommodation under the Housing Act 1996, but the only five bed accommodation they could offer was in Bletchley, close to Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire. She refused, saying she would lose touch with supportive friends in Westminster, Local Government Lawyer reports.
The authority refused to provide any further help, insisting that it had discharged its statutory duty to offer her council accommodation. The mother pressed for a review of the council’s decision, questioning the claim that the house in Bletchley was suitable for her and the council’s claim that the offer meant they had met their statutory obligations. A housing offer conducted a review but found in favour of the council on both points.
The woman took her case to the County Court and then the Court of Appeal, losing on both occasions.
The Supreme Court has now unanimously ruled in favour of the mother, but the UK’s highest court issued its decision before publishing a judgement setting out its reasons for the ruling, in order to allow arrangements to be made for the woman and her family.