C, R (on the application of) v London Borough of Lambeth  EWHC 1230 (Admin) is, in the end, mainly concerned with education, but there is quite a bit of interest to housing people.
The issue was the duties owed to the Claimant under s.23 and s.24 Children Act 1989.
The Claimant had been in care with Lambeth. Shortly before her 18th birthday, Lambeth gave her tenancy of a one bed flat. The next year, after suffering a serious sexual assault at the flat, C left to stay with friends and a former foster mother. In 2207, she was briefly street homeless, before the application for Judicial Review was made. She was accommodated by Lambeth after an interim order.
The judicial review application concerned Lambeth’s failings in three duties to a ‘looked after child’ – housing, community care, education and training.
In the meantime, the claimant turned 21. In view of the ongoing proceedings, Lambeth agreed that if any breach of duty was found, then it would not make an issue of C now being over 21.
Shortly before the substantive hearing, Lambeth accepted a permanent housing duty and a duty to make a community care assessment. The education aspect remained at issue. Lambeth maintained that no education and training duty existed because a course of study had not been identified in a pathway plan that had been adopted before C turned 21. In any case, the pathway plans that had been prepared had not been adopted by the Council.
The Court held, following R(J) v Caerphilly County Borough Council  EWHC 586 Admin;  2 FLR 860, that the pathway plans that existed had not been properly prepared as they had been prepared by C’s personal advisor. The plan was descriptive rather than establishing proposed courses of action and assistance for C.
The Council’s failure to adopt the plan did not make much of a difference as its evidence was that the plan would have been the same if it had adopted it. The plan requires objective assessment so that all parties can see what it envisages, identify progress or the reasons for the lack of it.
In addition, the plan recognised that the then housing problems had had a major effect on C’s educational aims. C’s difficulties in engaging with the course she had been undertaking were therefore in part due to Lambeth’s failure to accept the housing duty, and also, given C’s mental health difficulties, the failure to undertake a community care assessment.
It was artificial to separate out the educational duty from the housing and community care duty where they were clearly interlinked. C was therefore successful.