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Public law case updates

R (on the application of Yonas Kebede and Abiy Kebede) v Newcastle City Council [2013] EWCA 960 Civ

Shazia Akhtar successfully argued in the Administrative Court (read Kebede v Newcastle City Council [2013] EWHC 355) that s23C (4) (b) combined with s24B of the Children Act 1989 could include the payment of tuition fees and that when carrying out its duty under s23C, a local authority could not consider it's resources.

Newcastle appealed to the Court of Appeal on the basis that the phrase "expenses connected with his education" cannot include tuition fees and, even if the phrase were to include tuition fees, Newcastle was entitled to take its resources into account in deciding whether or not to make such payment. The case of R v Gloucestershire County Council ex p Barry [1997] AC 584 was relied upon by Newcastle to support this contention.

The Court of Appeal agreed that, as a matter of statutory construction, s24B could include payment of tuition fees.

It was also argued by Shazia that as s23C was framed in terms of a duty, resources could not be a relevant factor when deciding to make such payment.

The Court of Appeal agreed and rejected Newcastle’s argument on Barry at paragraphs 17-19 of the judgment.

Newcastle now has to re-consider its decision not to fund the Kebede brothers in light of this judgment.

This case is of great significance for the Kebede brothers who will now, in light of this case, be able to count themselves amongst the 6% of care leavers who go on to higher education.

For further information, please refer to the judgment in R (on the application of Yonas Kebede and Abiy Kebede) v Newcastle City Council [2013] EWCA 960 Civ.

London Borough of Tower Hamlets v The Queen on the application of X [2013] EWCA Civ 904

The Court of Appeal handed down judgment in a landmark decision about the rights of family foster carers.

It upheld the decision of Males J ([2013] EWHC 480 (Admin)) that the local authority’s policies on payments to foster carers are unlawful because they discriminate between family and unrelated foster carers on the grounds of the pre-existing relationship with the child. The Court of Appeal agreed that the local authority had no cogent reasons for departing from statutory guidance which provides that allowances and fees paid to family foster carers should not be less than those paid to unrelated foster carers.

The Court of Appeal re-iterated Males J’s description of the tremendous work that X had undertaken to care for her relatives and his praise of her as an unsung heroine of society. The local authority has three months to rewrite their policy.

This case is a significant victory for family members who sacrifice much to look after some of the most vulnerable children in our society.

Fiona Scolding and Amelia Walker were instructed by Rebecca Chapman, Ridley & Hall Solicitors.

R (on the application of MA & Ors) v The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Birmingham City Council (Interested Party) and (1) The Equality and Human Rights Commission (2) Shelter (Interveners) [2013] EWHC (2213)

Read Dean Underwood’s excellent summary of this landmark decision on “the bedroom tax”.