The growing trend for refusing support on credibility grounds

April 28th, 2016

In a post in blog post last month, “I reasonably don’t believe you”, I discussed a recent case on an LA decision to refuse to support destitute persons subject to immigration control, where the LA decision rested on the view that the claimant was not credible in his claim to have no support. I commented in that blog that the trend for this sort of LA decision-making was growing. And so it seems. In R (O) v LB Lambeth [2016] EWHC 937 (Admin) a mother and her child, who were foreign nationals, claimed to be destitute and have no means of support. Lambeth conducted assessments concluding that they could return to their country of origin, and in any event refused to accept the claims to destitution / absence of means of support.

The case was a very strong one for Lambeth on the facts. They had a wealth of evidence on which to base their factual findings, including numerous inconsistencies in the accounts given, one of the addresses in which it was said the mother and child had lived did not exist, there were entries in the mother’s bank statements which she failed to explain, the mother changed her explanations as to other financial transactions through her bank account, statements by the child to the social worker contradicted evidence given by the mother, and so on.

The Court rejected rationality challenges to Lambeth’s assessments and decisions regarding destitution and means of support. The Judge dealt with the matter on straightforward Wednesbury grounds, notwithstanding the human rights element of the decision in issue. This was presumably due to the manner in which the case was argued. The judge also rejected arguments that the assessing social worker should have made further inquiries or done further investigation.

In handing down her judgment, the judge also provided some useful guidance on the type of enquiries that LAs are expected to make when undertaking s.17 assessments, the inferences they are entitled to draw, and how their reports should be received in court.  Those advising in this field may wish to read paragraphs 13 to 21 in full.

While this case was decided along the same lines as the previous case I blogged on last month, this present case was far weaker factually (for the claimant). Still, it is part of a clearly growing trend of such LA decision-making, and is unlikely to be the last claim of its type this year.

Jonathan Auburn
ja@11kbw.com
twitter: @jonaub11kbw

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