Supreme Court,  UKSC 40, 16 October 2020
Lords Reed, Kerr, Kitchen and Sales and Lady Arden
The case involved a challenge to Hackney’s allocation of about 1% of its social housing via a charitable housing association (Agudas Israel Housing Association/ AIHA) which prioritized applicants from the Orthodox Jewish Community. The reasons for the priority were, inter alia, that Orthodox Jewish families were disadvantaged in access to general social housing by reason of their tendency to have large families; that they suffered from significant economic disadvantage and discrimination in access to private sector accommodation; and that they needed to live in proximity to each other for religious reasons and because of antisemitism. The decision is an important one in rejecting the argument that a narrow approach should be taken to the parameters of lawful positive action.
Administrative Court: Julian Knowles J,  EWHC 2482 (Admin), 23 September 2020
The claimant unsuccessfully sought to challenge the calculation of the housing element of Universal Credit (UC) on the basis, inter alia, that it discriminated between weekly and monthly paying tenants. The Judge accepted that the discrimination at issue fell within the scope of A1P1 and was “prepared to assume in the Claimant’s favour that, having regard to the broad approach in … cases [such as R (Stott) v Secretary of State for Justice  UKSC 59,  3 WLR 1831 and R (DA & Ors) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Shelter Children’s Legal Services and others intervening)  UKSC 21,  1 WLR 3289] that being a weekly tenant is such a status”. In his view, however, that the applicable test for justification in the context of welfare benefit was the “manifestly without reasonable foundation” test had been “authoritatively determined by the Supreme Court’ in DA , approving Humphreys v HM Revenue and Customs Commissioners”  UKSC 18,  1 WLR 1545, §§20-22. (Note that the Humphreys approach has been superseded as a result of the decision of the Supreme Court in R (SC) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  UKSC 26,  3 WLR 428 (see later post)). Continue reading