On Friday 13th July, a High Court Judge ruled that Hillingdon Council’s Social Housing Allocation Policy was discriminatory against Travellers. In order to join the social housing register, Hillingdon Council required households to have been living in the borough continuously for at least ten years. Three Irish Traveller claimants successfully challenged the housing policy, highlighting that it indirectly discriminated against nomadic Gypsy and Traveller communities.
Solicitor Rebekah Carrier of Hopkin Murray Beskine, represented the Traveller claimants in the case which focused around the statement in Hillingdon Council’s Social Housing Policy which said, “Households who have not been continuously living in the borough for at least 10 years and will not qualify to join the housing register.”
It is commonly recognised that nomadism is an important part of Gypsy and Traveller life and culture. Many Gypsy and Traveller families travel around regularly for work or social purposes. The requirement to have been resident in Hillingdon borough for 10 continuous years is an example of indirect discrimination against Romany Gypsy and Irish Traveller communities who are protected by the Equality Act 2010.
Speaking about the ruling, Abbie Kirkby, Advice and Policy Manager at Friends Families and Travellers said,
“We first became aware of the fact that the social housing allocation policy in Hillingdon discriminates against nomadic Gypsies and Travellers over three years ago and provided support to one the claimants. We hope Friday’s ruling will send out a clear message to local authorities to ensure that their policies and practices are fair for all groups.”
Responding to the news, Michelle Gavin, Project Manager at Friends Families and Travellers said:
“This is a huge breakthrough on an issue which has been affecting many of our clients. To finally hear that the court agrees that Hillingdon Council’s policy has discriminated against Irish Travellers on grounds of race is an enormous win for the communities we support.”
Notes for Editor
About Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT)
Friends, Families and Travellers is a leading national charity that works on behalf of all Gypsies, Roma and Travellers regardless of ethnicity, culture or background.
Sarah Sweeney – Office hours Monday – Friday, 10am – 6pm
Tel: 07963 382 190 Email: email@example.com
Court Ruling: TW & Ors, R (on the application of) v London Borough of Hillingdon & Anor  EWHC 1791 (Admin) (13 July 2018) – view here
Inside Housing: Social housing allocations policy ‘discriminates against Travellers’, court rules – view here