SIG Comment on High Court Ruling Enabling Eviction of Disabled People

We were disappointed and concerned to read of the High Court’s recent ruling in favour of a Local Authority’s decision to evict and exclude a woman who lives with autism and challenges with alcohol use, from social housing.

Across our services we witness first-hand, connections between neuropsychiatric disabilities, including autism and ADHD, with mental health and alcohol and illegal substance use. These conditions can frequently lead to an increase in anti-social behaviour. People need support with these challenging issues, and penalising and excluding them from our society even more than they often already are, worsens the difficulties they face.

An inclusive, effective and sustainable solution we ask Local authorities to apply is to invest funds into assertive outreach and support provision: Services like our own Penrose Community Care and Support work intensely with residents who are facing eviction as a result of some of the challenges they have.

Assertive outreach works in such a way that people who often find it difficult to accept support have a team of people working to ensure they engage and start seeking the help they need to stay in their homes. This delivers both cost savings and better outcomes for the individual.

We also call for more much-needed research exploring the links between neuropsychiatric disabilities and housing-related ASB, particularly given that the reports cited by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) and the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) were deemed insufficient by the Court.

This case offers us an example of how detrimental the lack of research and legislation around disability is in its real life impact on people with visible and invisible disabilities. However, the evidence speaks volumes; we do know that disabled people are far more likely to be victims of anti-social behaviour and that disabled women are twice as likely to be victims of domestic abuse.

Expert opinion shared in court acknowledged a correlation between ADHD and antisocial behaviour, and research exists showing further links to trauma and abuse. This makes it difficult to understand the court statement that the claimant had not shown a link between her own condition and the circumstances of the case.

Most vitally, we do not want to see disabled people pushed into homelessness. Social Interest Group apply a person-centred approach to support people to manage their independence in their home. Our SIG community service provision offers floating support for people in their homes, removing accessibility challenges and meeting people at their point of need.

Our approach facilitates early prevention and benefits community cohesion. Our partnering with Local Authorities as a community service provider has helped our participants and residents stay in their homes and follow the pathways to independent community living. Legislation and policy in our housing, health and care systems prescribe independent living as the ultimate goal for all.

At a time when economic challenges and a housing crisis are impacting the most vulnerable in our society, it is important to highlight the cost benefit of a few hours of community support services for people, enabling them to maintain their home. This is in contrast to the high expense of emergency measures that are inevitable when people are made homeless.

We encourage collaborative working and offer to partner with Local Authorities to support their residents to manage and maintain their homes, to access primary care and community resources and activities. We know that this model is proven to benefit diverse groups and creates a more cohesive and equitable society for all. 

High Court rules council can exclude tenants with disabilities that may contribute to ASB from social housing