Local authorities must provide accommodation for 18-year-old asylum seekers leaving care, according to a Court of Appeal ruling.
Lawyers are warning that the costs for children’s services as a result of the ruling could be ‘very significant’ given that these young people are, by law, excluded from mainstream social welfare or housing services.
Ed Mitchell, social care lawyer and editor of Social Care Law Today, said that the ruling may come as a shock to some local authorities.
“It is a complete reversal of a decision of the High Court earlier this year that some councils would have relied on to withdraw services. Reinstating them, in accordance with this decision, will not be painless.”
The ruling came about as a result of a case brought by an asylum seeker from Eritrea.
He sought clarification on whether accommodation to care-leaving asylum seekers should be the responsibility of the local authority – in his case Barking and Dagenham Council, east London – or the National Asylum Support Service.
The court ruled that under The Children Act 2004, the local authority had responsibility to ensure that accommodation is available where the welfare of the young person requires it.
The Children’s Society, which in July was granted leave to intervene in the case, welcomed the ruling, describing it as a victory for children’s rights campaigners.
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