Relocated mum wins battle against council over unreasonable budget

The council expected her family of five to spend £50 a week on clothing, transport, school expenses, debt repayment and anything else
By Victoria Munro

The council's budget would have only plunged her further into debt (credit: Pixabay)
The council’s budget would have only plunged her further into debt (credit: Pixabay)

Yet another mother told to move to Stoke-on-Trent by Waltham Forest Council has won a court battle against them.

Lisa Paley won her appeal after a judge ruled the budget the council expected her to live on in Stoke-on-Trent “could not begin to cover reasonable expenses no matter how modest”.

The council created a budget for her family of five that allowed £50 a week towards clothing, public transport, school expenses, repayment of her debts and any other expenses.

At the court of appeal on 30th November last year, judge Lady Justice King ruled the council had thus failed to properly assess her finances, adding: “Just because a property is less unaffordable than a property in London, that does not mean that it is affordable.”

She wrote: “Far from there being sufficient flexibility in the budget to allow, for example, routine but frugal use of public transport and the occasional visit to her family, the affordability budget provided by the local authority was inevitably going to plunge Ms Paley even further into debt and as a consequence, put her and her children at risk of once again being rendered homeless. 

This story is published by Waltham Forest Echo, Waltham Forest's free monthly newspaper and free news website. We are a not-for-profit publication, published by a small social enterprise. We have no rich backers and rely on the support of our readers. Donate or become a supporter.

“No one underestimates the profound difficulties faced by local housing authorities in finding suitable accommodation for those people to whom they owe a main housing duty. But there has been a proper recognition of the equally significant impact on families moved from their settled local area to the other end of the country where rents are cheaper than those in London.” 

Lisa, a borough resident of 35 years, became homeless in 2016 after being evicted by her landlord and, in 2017, was placed by the council in temporary accommodation in Bexley.

In late 2019, the discretionary housing payments she was receiving from the government stopped, leaving her unable to afford the rent for her temporary accommodation and causing her to rack up debt.

At the start of 2020, the council offered her family a private rented home in Staffordshire, 161 miles away. The family relocated but then moved back to the south of England, where they currently live in rented accommodation.

Despite no longer living in the Stoke-on-Trent home, Lisa took the council to court in order to prove she had not made herself “voluntarily homeless” by leaving the property.

Hers is one of hundreds of households to have been told to move out of London by the council, as revealed exclusively by the Echo.

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