Braverman must house family facing homelessness or return to Grenada, says judge
The Home Secretary must help house a “destitute” family bringing legal action against her, after she left them with the choice of enduring street homelessness or returning to Grenada, a judge has ruled.
Rawle Ganpot, 73, Fayrose Dickson, 69, and their son Paul Dickson, 49, who came to the UK from the Caribbean island nation over 25 years ago, currently rely on soup kitchens and food banks, the High Court was told.
The family have launched legal challenges against Suella Braverman, after her department refused an application for accommodation and support amid their bid to remain in the UK.
All three arrived from Grenada in the mid-to-late 1990s and had lived with Fayrose’s daughter until September 2021 when she asked them to leave.
The family were housed by Luton Borough Council, but they were unable to pay rent, fell into arrears of around £10,000 and were told they would be evicted.
Other than a small state pension for Fayrose, the family have no income and live on charitable donations and support from the local community, the court heard.
Rawle suffers from hypertension, diabetes, and chronic stage-three kidney disease, Paul has diabetes, asthma and possibly some learning difficulties, while Fayrose also has diabetes.
They have applied for leave to remain in the UK under the “private life route” on the basis they have lived in the UK continuously for 20 years, which is still to be determined by the Home Office.
All three had applications for immigration bail and accommodation refused and were told that there were no “legal or practical obstacles to you returning to your country of origin” and that the denial of support “does not constitute a breach of your human rights”.
The Home Office, accepting their “destitution”, said there was no record of the family applying to schemes that would support their voluntary return to Grenada, and that the country’s embassy had the power to issue them with travel documents.
“It is therefore not considered that you are taking reasonable steps to leave the UK,” the Home Office said.
The department added that the family had also not submitted medical evidence that they were unable to leave the UK.
In a ruling on Friday, Judge Clive Sheldon KC said that the approach taken by the Home Secretary presented the family “with the choice of enduring ‘street homelessness’, or returning to Grenada” – a country they “have no real connections with”.
He said that after an extension of accommodation by Luton Borough Council to the start of this month, the family would be evicted and that there was no expectation of a housing offer from anyone else.
The judge said the family could not pay for their own accommodation, were not entitled to work and were not permitted to have state benefits as a result of their immigrations status.
He concluded that it was “strongly arguable” that the Home Secretary had “acted unlawfully” in using her powers in a way that put the family to the choice of staying homeless in the UK – that may breach their right not to endure degrading treatment – or return to Grenada – which may breach their right to respect for their private family life.
The family’s applications to stay in the UK “are not frivolous or abusive and appear to have some merit”, the judge said, adding that they “assert that they have stayed continuously in the United Kingdom for more than 20 years and have received no criminal convictions during that time”.
Judge Sheldon made an interim order that the Home Secretary should make accommodation available to the family pending the outcome of their legal challenges that will be heard at a later date.