Our client was a refugee and became homeless when her daughter was reunited with her as her housing was not suitable for children. She was then housed in temporary accommodation that was up to a 2 hour bus ride from her daughter’s primary school. There was also anti-social behaviour in the block of flats due to suspected drug dealing with visitors coming and going throughout the night. Our client had also been refused work as a dinner lady because she was not housed in her home borough.
We reviewed the suitability of the temporary accommodation on the grounds that:
• The journey to school was too long and far in excess of the Department of Education’s guidance
• The effect of the long commute to school and the fear of changing school had a detrimental effect on our client’s young daughter. This caused her to show signs of memory loss which was suspected by a medical professional to partly be a result of the long commute to school
• Our client’s daughter had already faced significant disruption to education being the daughter of a refugee, and therefore the council should not require her to change school again under their duty to promote and safeguard the welfare of children under S.11 Children’s Act 2004.
• The location of the temporary accommodation had affected our client’s employment prospects
• The council had not followed its own temporary accommodation lettings policy
• The council’s policy and actions were discriminatory to single mother’, as no account had been taken to minimise the effect of out of borough temporary accommodation on single mothers ability to both care for their children and to find and keep employment.
The council’s review decision found that the accommodation was unsuitable. However, the council failed to offer any further temporary accommodation. After unanswered emails we wrote a pre-action letter to the council due to the ongoing breach of their duty to provide suitable temporary accommodation. This prompted the council to provide suitable temporary accommodation which dramatically reduced the journey to school for our client’s daughter.