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Supreme Court case could address ‘injustice’ of council homeless assessments – charities

A Supreme Court challenge on how councils decide which homeless people are judged ‘vulnerable’ enough for rehousing could address a ‘longstanding injustice’ that has seen many turned away in the past, according to Crisis and Shelter. 

As the law stands in England, when a person comes to their council as homeless, they must prove that they are ‘vulnerable’ enough to qualify as a ‘priority’ for rehousing. 

However, the homelessness charities have evidence of people in desperate situations being judged as not being vulnerable by local councils, including women fleeing domestic violence, people with learning disabilities, people with mental health problems and young people forced out of the family home. 

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “Local councils are wrongly refusing to help homeless people who come to them in desperate need as they do not consider them to be ‘vulnerable enough’. 

“This has led to many people being turned away to sleep on the streets. The average age of death for a homeless person is just 47 – a shocking state of affairs in 21st century England. If the Supreme Court addresses this longstanding injustice, and people are judged fairly when they ask for help from their local council, protection for homeless people could be greatly improved.” 

Last year, 113,270 people in England approached their council as homeless, while rough sleeping has risen by 37% over three years. 

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “In Britain 90,000 children will wake up on Christmas morning without a place to call home. With more and more people facing the nightmare of losing their home, it’s vital we ensure that everyone who finds themselves in this desperate situation is treated fairly and given the help they are entitled to.” 

Three cases are due to be heard at the Supreme Court from 15 December 2014. 

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