The High Court has today ordered Brent Council to accept their duty to our client, KI, as a care leaver after criticising Brent’s flawed approach to proceedings. As a result of the criticism, Brent have agreed to undertake a review of their procedures.
KI was born in Sudan in January 2000. He left Sudan because of difficulties with the Sudanese Government which had resulted in detention and ill treatment. He arrived in the UK in October 2016. He was accompanied to the UK by his cousin, M, who was a similar age. When he arrived in the UK it was intended that he and M would live with their uncle in Brent.
Before they arrived Brent checked their uncle’s accommodation to see if it was acceptable for KI and M to live there. Brent decided they did not support the children going to live with their uncle because he lived in a studio flat which was not big enough for the three of them. However despite this decision, shortly after KI and M arrived in the UK they were taken to live with their uncle.
KI lived with his uncle and cousin in the studio flat until July 2017 when KI was thrown out of the flat by his uncle. KI went to Brent and asked for help because he was homeless. KI was temporarily accommodated by Brent for 9 weeks but was then told to move back in with his uncle. KI refused to go back until his uncle was provided with bigger accommodation. This did not happen so KI remained homeless, sofa surfing with friends, until he turned 18.
Young people who have been looked after by councils for a certain amount of time (usually 13 weeks or more) as children, are owed distinct care leaver duties by the councils that looked after them. These duties run from when they turn 18 usually up until they turn 21 (but it can be longer if they stay in education).
KI’s case against Brent was that they should have looked after KI from when he was thrown out of his uncle’s flat to when he turned 18. If they had, he would be owed duties by Brent as a young care leaver.
Brent argued that they did not owe any care leaver duties to KI because they had not looked after him for long enough before returning him to his uncle’s care.
The court decided Brent should have looked after KI from when he was made homeless by his uncle up until his 18th birthday. The court said councils should not try to avoid having duties to young care leavers by ceasing to look after them sooner than they should.
The court also found Brent had not disclosed all the documents relating to the case that they should have before the final hearing. This was held to be a breach of duty and Brent were heavily criticised. As a result, Brent is undertaking a review of their procedures for ensuring effective and timely disclosure in judicial review cases involving Children and Young People’s Services and Adult Social Care.
Eleanor Ronson is a member of the Community Care team at GT Stewart Solicitors & Advocates. Eleanor instructed Felicity Williams of Garden Court Chambers.