High Court dismisses challenges to adult and child asylum support rates


In R (Ghulam, K and YT & RG) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2016] EWHC 2639 (Admin) the High Court (Flaux J) has dismissed three linked claims for judicial review challenging the rates of financial support provided to adult and dependent child asylum seekers pursuant to ss.95-98 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 and Directive 2003/9/EC (“the Reception Directive”).

In 2014, the High Court (Popplewell J) had quashed the Secretary of State’s previous decision in respect of the financial support provided to adult asylum seekers: R (Refugee Action) v SSHD [2014] EWHC 1033 (Admin). Following that judgment, the Secretary of State adopted a new methodology and took a fresh decision in 2014 in respect of the adult rate and subsequently in 2015 another decision in respect of the child rate. The fresh decisions entailed the rate of adult support being maintained at the same level as before Popplewell J’s judgment and the rate of child support being reduced to the same rate as for adults.

The claimants alleged that the Secretary of State had: (1) failed to carry out a proper inquiry before making the 2014 decision; (2) failed to comply with the minimum standards set down in the Reception Directive; (3) discriminated contrary to Art.14 ECHR and Art.21 CFR as between child dependents of asylum seekers and children of UK nationals in receipt of Income Support; (4) failed to provide for the recreational needs of child dependents of asylum seekers; (5) acted irrationally, failed to carry out a proper inquiry and was in breach of s.55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 and the Every Child Matters guidance in making the 2015 decision; and (6) breached the public sector equality duty under s.149 of the Equality Act 2010 in making the 2015 decision.

Flaux J rejected all of the claimants’ grounds of challenge to the new rates, holding (in summary) that:

(1) The Secretary of State had fully complied with her duty of inquiry, the new methodology used to set the adult rate was entirely rational and lawful and, on the evidence, the rates of financial support met the objective minimum standard called for by the Reception Directive.
(2) Similarly, the Secretary of State had carefully and properly inquired into and considered the position of dependant children of asylum seekers and there was no breach of the Reception Directive, Article 14 ECHR, s. 55 of the 2009 Act and/or the guidance in respect of the setting of the child rate.
(3) The Secretary of State had complied with her duties under s.149 of the 2010 Act.

The learned Judge also refused the claimants permission to appeal.

The judgment can be read here.

Clive Sheldon KC, James Cornwell and Joseph Barrett of 11KBW acted for the successful Defendant, the Secretary of State for the Home Department.