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Homelessness – suitability and distance to school


The Queen on the Application of Fokou v London Borough of Southwark (2022) EWHC 1452 (Admin) (not on Bailii, judgment on Westlaw)

THis was an application for interim relief in judicial review proceedings regarding suitability of accommodation and alleging breach of the Children Act 2004 s.11(2) duty to discharge the Council’s functions in such a way as to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

The issue for interim relief was the claimed unsuitability of the temporary accommodation provided by LB Southwark following a homeless application. The accommodation was in North London. Mr Fokou’s two children aged 6 and 11, where in schools in Southwark. Mr F argued that the trip to the schools was taking one hour and 45 minutes each morning, so the children had to get up at 5 am and did not get home until the early evening, leaving them very tired. This was impacting on their health and well being. For this reason, the accommodation was not suitable and accommodation closer to the schools should be provided by way of interim relief.

Southwark argued that the accommodation was suitable. Its own policy prioritised children with special educational needs or protection issues, followed by children who were scheduled to sit public examinations within six months. None of these factors applied, so as to prioritise the family for scarce temporary accommodation. In addition, the best journey time was 45-55 minutes and Southwark suggested Mr F was taking a slower route for financial reasons. Mr F could seek school places in North London.

The Court declined to order interim relief. There was not a strong prima facie case of breach of s.11(2) CA 2002 or Housing Act 1996 s.188 duty. While Mr F’s reluctance to change the children’s schools while his housing position was precarious and likely to change in the near future was understandable,  there was not a sufficiently strong challenge to the suitability of the current accommodation.


Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.


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