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CENTRAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT TO SPLIT BILL FOR DESTITUTE ASYLUM SEEKER IN TEST CASE

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Haringey LBC and central government must split the bill for housing and caring for a Ugandan HIV sufferer and her t...
Haringey LBC and central government must split the bill for housing and caring for a Ugandan HIV sufferer and her two children.

So ruled Appeal Court judges in what was viewed as a vital test case on whether the heavy financial burden of coping with destitute asylum seekers and their families should fall on central or local government.

The 39-year-old Ugandan mother has been in Britain for eight years and her children are aged three and five. She originally came here to join her husband but left him in late 2002 due to domestic violence.

Since then Haringey LBC has provided her and her two sons with accommodation and subsistence - but the council went to court, arguing that central government should carry the financial burden.

Lord Justice Carnwath said the issue in the Appeal Court was not where the family should live but 'who should pay for them'.

Haringey has always accepted it has to house and provide basic assistance for the mother, but argued the Home Office's National Asylum Support Service bore a legal duty to provide for the two children.

For its part NASS argued that responsibility for the whole family fell on Haringey under the terms of the 1948 National Assistance Act.

However, ruling in favour of the council, Lord Justice Carnwath said NASS must fulfill its duty under the Act to make arrangements for the children to be supported 'as part of their mother's household'.

He added: 'In practice, as Haringey accepts, this will mean that the whole family will be accommodated by Haringey but with a financial contribution from NASS to represent the children's share'.

The judge, sitting with the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, and Lord Justice Rix, said the mother had applied to remain in Britain on the basis that deporting her back to Uganda - where life-saving treatment would be unavailable - would violate her human rights.

That application, he said, has yet to be decided by the Home Office.

STRAND NEWS SERVICE

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