Immigration rules: extending domestic violence protection to refugees (R (A) v Secretary of State for the Home Department)
The wife of a refugee was granted temporary leave to remain in the UK. When domestic violence forced her to leave her husband, immigration rules meant she was no longer eligible for indefinite leave to remain. Had her partner been a British citizen or had settled immigration status, she would still be eligible for indefinite leave to remain under the Home Office’s domestic violence concession. However, the concession did not apply to partners of refugees. The woman unsuccessfully challenged the rules in the Court of Session (Outer House), and brought an appeal to the Court of Session (Inner House).
Immigration status and the right to rent a property (R (Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants) v Secretary of State for the Home Department)
As part of the Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ towards those without leave to remain in the UK, the Immigration Act 2014 prevents landlords from renting property to people who do not have leave to enter or remain in the UK. A body representing the interests of immigrants challenged this, arguing that the law breached both equality and human rights legislation because it causes landlords to discriminate against potential tenants on the grounds of their nationality and/or their race. This may happen, for example, because landlords think they do not look or sound British, even if they are not disqualified from renting.
A group of Irish Travellers were refused service in a pub because of their race. We supported them to bring a successful claim for race discrimination.
Hillingdon Council’s housing rules said that a person must have lived in the area for at least ten years before they could apply for a house. The council refused two people, a refugee who had been given permission to stay in the UK and an Irish Traveller, on these grounds. We saw this as discriminatory and we intervened in their cases in the Administrative Court and the Court of Appeal.
Bedroom tax: under what circumstances is a spare room justifiable? (R (Daly and others) (formerly known as MA and others) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions)
Housing benefit regulations reduce the amount of benefit available to people who have a spare bedroom. Seven people who had lost some of their benefit challenged the Department for Work and Pensions in the Supreme Court.
Challenging the two-child limit on the basis of discrimination (R ( SC & Ors) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions)
Tax credits are designed to help with the cost of bringing up a family; but families can only claim credits for the first two children. The claimant in this case is a mother of three children, she cannot take the contraceptive pill because it interferes with other medication she takes and she does not agree with abortion. We believe that the two-child limit discriminates against families like this claimant, so we intervened in her case.
Helping a woman with mental health conditions access justice (XX v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions)
A woman has mental health issues and claimed Employment and Support Allowance. She was referred to the Work Programme, which involves work-focused interviews and activities designed to improve people’s chances of finding work. She found it difficult to attend these because no adjustments had been made for her mental health impairments. She experienced deterioration in her health as a result of attempting to carry out the mandatory activities. She brought claims for failure to make reasonable adjustments and indirect disability discrimination.
A disabled man was unable to board a bus because a passenger with a pushchair refused to vacate the wheelchair space. The man successfully brought a claim for discrimination against the bus company. The company appealed twice in the Supreme Court, which is where our involvement began.