In the case of The Queen on the application of Egnastasville v Secretary of State for Home Department CO/1793/2020, at an interim relief hearing by videolink, on 12th January 2021, Mr David Lock QC sitting as Deputy High Court Judge, was invited to make and granted a novel interim relief order, allowing Section 95 recipients of asylum support to remain in their accommodation in North London, rather than being dispersed.

The Claimant’s wife suffers from cancer and is receiving chemotherapy from a North London Hospital. The Defendant delayed many months in providing  Section 95 support, having delayed the processing of the application. Shortly before the interim relief hearing, the SSHD purported to provide suitable accommodation in East London. The Claimant rejected the accommodation as unsuitable, because of the travel distance from the hospital. The Legal Team were concerned that decrease in Ambulance services because of Covid19 would have increased risks for her, having to take to the North London Hospital, where she was being treated.

This decision significantly indicates a willingness of the High Court to make an order that directs the Defendant to pay for accommodation in the commercial sector, where its chosen providers are not able to provide suitable accommodation in the necessary location.

It was contended that by Section 95 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, once the SSHD has decided to exercise the power to grant accommodation and support, she has the duty to provide adequate accommodation, because destitution is decided by reason of ‘adequacy’ of accommodation. That accommodation would not be adequate if it meant that medicalor educational facilities were not within reasonable travel distance and that necessary family support would be lost.

Turning the decision of R (Chkharchkhalia)  v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWHC 2232 (Admin), on its ‘head’ there will  come a point, where the Defendant will have to locate suitable property from its ‘affordable’ range, but until that point in order to ensure that the family were suitably accommodated the Defendant would have to pay the rent of a commercial landlord.

Whilst these arguments were not new, the acceptance of the contention that the family should remain in their private letting was unusual and demonstrates that the Defendant should look beyond the resources of its provider, if the circumstances so determine.

Nabila Mallick is an Equalities Barrister at No5 Barristers’ Chambers practicing in Public Law and Employment Law and was instructed by Lawtop Solicitors.