London Borough of Camden reviewing its policy on subsistence rates paid to families in receipt of section 17 support

Following judicial review proceedings brought by this firm, LB Camden has agreed to review and amend its policy on how it calculates the subsistence rates paid to families who are in receipt of section 17 Children Act 1989 support and accommodation.

Children whose parents have no recourse to public funds are by definition amongst the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. Without access to welfare benefits, such families are reliant on the support and accommodation which local authorities provide pursuant to section 17.

Conducting lawful assessments of each and every such child is therefore vital not only for preventing their destitution, poverty and potential breach of their human rights but also for ensuring that the children’s wellbeing and development are promoted.

LB Camden’s policy previously provided that section 17 subsistence would be benchmarked at the rates central government pays to failed asylum seekers which works out at around £35/ week per person.

We issued judicial review proceedings challenging this aspect of the policy. Our clients claimed the policy was unlawful because subsistence should not be fixed but should be calculated by an assessment of the children’s needs on a case-by-case basis.

After our clients were granted permission by the Administrative Court to pursue the claim, LB Camden agreed to withdraw and review this aspect of its policy in respect of all families in the area (so not just our clients) who are in receipt of section 17 support. In the meantime, all its section 17 families’ subsistence should be calculated by way of an assessment of need alone.

For more information about the work we do on behalf of migrants with no recourse to public funds, read here.

Clare Jennings and Rachel Etheridge act for the family and are assisted by trainee solicitors Guy Mitchell and Olivia Halse.

Azeem Suterwalla of Monckton Chambers acts as Counsel.