Vulnerability/Disability

April 8th, 2020

The appeals in McMahon v Watford BC and Kiefer v Hertsmere BC (2020) EWCA Civ 497 raised the question of the interaction between a determination whether an applicant for homelessness assistance is “vulnerable” and compliance with the PSED. Lewison LJ said, at paras 45/46, that although there is a substantial overlap between between a vulnerability assessment there are also differences, the most important not of which is that whether a person has a disability is to be assessed without reference to measures being taken to correct or treat that disability, whereas vulnerability is to be assessed taking into account such measures. At para 62 he concluded that it is clear that a homelessness reviewing officer need not make findings about whether a homeless applicant does or does not have a disability, or the precise effect of the PSED. At para 89 he observed that there is a real danger of the PSED being used as a peg on which to hang a highly technical argument that an otherwise unimpeachable vulnerability assessment should be quashed.

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