R (H) v Ealing LBC  EWHC 841 (Admin) (Admin Ct): H and others applied for judicial review of the council's decision to significantly amend its housing allocations policy by introducing a scheme whereby 20% of all available lettings would be removed from the general pool and would be reserved for "Working Households" and "Model Tenants". The changes aimed to incentivise tenants to work or return to work and to encourage good tenant behaviour. H were two families who had protected characteristics of disability, age and gender under the Equality Act 2010. They contended that the scheme was discriminatory and breached Art.14 ECHR; also, that the Council was in breach of its Public Sector Equality Duty under s.149 of the 2010 Act and its obligations in respect of the welfare of children imposed by s.11 of the Children Act 2004.
The court held, granting the application, that the scheme indirectly discriminated against the protected groups of the disabled, the elderly and women. There was also disparate treatment of non-Council tenants because they could not be model tenants by definition. The Council had not justified the scheme – it had a legitimate aim in encouraging tenants to work and to be well-behaved in relation to their tenancy and the scheme was obviously a rational means of achieving that aim; however, it was not the least intrusive way of doing so. It could not be said that as against the aim of encouraging tenants to work and incentivising good tenant behaviour, the scheme was the least intrusive method without unacceptable results or that a fair balance had been achieved. The council was also in breach of its duties under the 2010 Act and the 2004 Act. (18 April 2016)