The Refugee Council has welcomed an important ruling from the Court of Appeal yesterday that means local authorities have the responsibility to provide accommodation and support to trauma victims and people with mental health problems. This particular case, SL v Westminster City Council , involved a refugee. The judgement corrects a gap in the law relating to local authorities’ duty to those in need of “care and attention” under section 21 of the National Assistance Act 1948, which had previously focused on people with physical rather than mental health problems. The charities Mind and Freedom from Torture supported this successful challenge to the interpretation of this legislation.
Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:
“This important judgement means that people with needs for ‘care and attention’ arising from mental health problems, including trauma resulting from torture, should now be entitled to appropriate assistance from local authorities.
“Previously many people in need of care and attention had been erroneously denied support , in some cases, including accommodation, under Section 21. We are very pleased to hear that as a result of this judgement local authorities will extend protection and alleviate suffering for some of our most vulnerable clients.”