This is UKAJI’s round-up of administrative justice news, events, publications, and cases for February 2020. If you have any details to add to this round-up or any future round-ups, please contact Lee Marsons on firstname.lastname@example.org.
- UKAJI posted its administrative justice round-up for January 2020.
- Gemma Manning (University of Huddersfield) and Jonathan Collinson (University of Huddersfield) wrote a blog about the Law Commission’s recent report on the Simplification of the Immigration Rules. The blog, which summarises and evaluates the report, can be found here.
- Callum Robertson, an LLB student at the University of Essex, wrote a blog about potential new developments in the Welsh devolution settlement from the perspective of administrative justice, particularly resolving disputes against the Welsh state. The blog can be found here.
- Margaret Whalley, a former complainant to the PHSO, wrote a blog about whether emotional intelligence should be a strategic priority for the institution. Offering a sceptical analysis, Whalley suggests that the PHSO should prioritise its core functions of complaints-handling rather than emotional intelligence skills. The blog can be found here.
Research and publications
- The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration published his report into the EU Settlement Scheme covering the period April 2019 to August 2019. The report was published on 27 February 2019 and makes nine recommendations for reform to the Scheme. The report can be found here.
- The House of Lords EU Sub-Committee has written to the Home Office raising concerns that vulnerable people, such as children in care, the homeless, and domestic abuse survivors, still face significant challenges in applying to the EU Settlement Scheme.
- Ian MacDuff (University of Auckland) published a blog entitled ‘Mediating Landscape and Memory’.
- Carolyn Hirst (Independent researcher and mediator at Hirstworks) published a blog entitled ‘The impact of ‘Outsider Mistreatment’’.
- The Office for National Statistics published its quarterly economic and statistical review in February 2020.
- Sir Michael Marmot published his report into Health Inequality in England. Sir Michael found that life expectancy for poorer women had declined in England and that mortality relates among men and women were increasing for those aged 45-49 due to so-called ‘deaths of despair’ such as suicide, alcoholism, and drug dependency. The report can be found here.
- Margaret Doyle (University of Essex) posted a blog entitled ‘Reframing mediation’s values in citizen-state disputes’.
- The Independent Inspector of Borders and Immigration published a report entitled ‘A reinspection into failed right of abode applications and referral for consideration for enforcement action’.
- Michael Adler published a review of Joe Tomlinson’s book, Justice in the Digital State: Assessing the Next Revolution in Administrative Justice, in the Journal of Law and Society.
- Carolyn Hirst (Hirstworks) posted a blog entitled ‘Emotions and Behaviours’, concerning the role that emotions may have in a mediators’ professional work.
- The Child Poverty Action Group published a report into the impact of benefit changes on larger families.
- The Attorney General provided an undertaking to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry that any statements made by a person in oral evidence may not be used against them in a future prosecution or lead to the investigation of any offences. However, the Attorney’s undertaking does not extend to corporates and any evidence given by corporates may still be used in a prosecution or charging decision. The undertaking can be found here.
- The DWP launched a consultation on 24 February 2020 on how it should involve disabled people in changing how it works. The consultation ends on 23 March 2020 at 11:45pm and can be found here.
- The Welsh Government created a digital public services centre as part of its Digital Wales strategy.
- The SPSO held a Complaints Improvement Conference on 25 February 2020.
- The Housing Minister confirmed that the Government would seek to create a statutory New Homes Ombudsman which would have the power to ban rogue developers from building substandard new housing developments.
- An employee of the DWP won almost half a million pounds in damages following a successful racial discrimination claim against the Department.
- The University of York established a new ‘Administrative Justice Cluster’ in its Law School comprised of three themes: street-level administrating decision-making; digital administrative justice; and the citizen’s perspective. The official website can be found here
- The PHSO published its response to the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges’ proposal for a National Patient Safety Syllabus, which aims to provide a common standard of education in patient safety education. The response can be found here.
- The PSOW determined that a Welsh student suffered serious injustice and anxiety in consequence of maladministration by the Student Loans Company.
- The PHSO published a survey on the experiences of mental health patients in England and determined that up to one in five do not feel safe in NHS care.
- The PHSO appointed Carolyn Hirst, Anu Singh and Linda Farrant to its Board as non-executive directors.
- The LGSCO criticised Folkstone and Hythe Council for the way it dealt with a family with two young children who had approached the Council for assistance with homelessness. The LGSCO found that the council delayed helping the family for three weeks in January and February 2019, failed to consider information the family provided, and instead did not help them until they were actually homeless. The determination can be found here.
- The Government of Jersey published a report indicating its support for the creation of a Public Services Ombudsman for Jersey.
- The SPSO revised its Model Complaints Handling Procedures for all sectors apart from the NHS.
- The SPSO laid its findings in one case before the Scottish Parliament.
- In July 2019, the SPSO also became the Independent National Whistleblowing Officer for Scotland, with a responsibility to produce standards to be used by the public sector in dealing with whistle-blowers. The SPSO published its initial recommended standards here.
- The PSOW found that Swansea Bay University Health Board failed to recognise stroke symptoms in pensioner who later died.
- The PSOW found that a vulnerable man choked to death after a care provider failed to undertake an appropriate risk assessment and produce an acceptable plan for his care.
- The NIPSO appointed Mr Paul McFadden as the Acting Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman, following the restoration of devolved governance in Northern Ireland.
- The NIPSO published a blog on the importance of good record keeping in complaints handling, investigations, and inspections.
- The Welsh Assembly’s Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee launched an inquiry into the Welsh Government’s taskforce on regeneration and sustainable growth in the Valleys.
- The Welsh Assembly’s Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee launched a consultation into the Welsh Government’s proposed Renting Homes (Amendment) Bill, which increases the minimum notice period provided to tenants for so-called ‘no-fault evictions’ from two to six months.
- The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill passed its First Stage in the Scottish Parliament on 25 February 2020. The Bill is designed to provide free period products to women in Scotland.
- William Wragg MP was elected as the Chair of Westminster’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee.
- HJ v London Borough of Croydon  EWHC 384 (Admin), which concerned a dispute between the Vietnamese appellant and defendant Council as to whether HJ was in fact a child for the purposes of the Children Act 1989, meaning that the Council owed obligations for her wellbeing.
- Inclusion Housing Community Interest Company v Regulator of Social Housing  EWHC 346 (Admin), where the appellant social housing company challenged a regulatory decision by the defendant regulator that the company was non-compliant with legal requirements so far as financial viability and adequacy of governance were concerned. The Administrative Court upheld the regulator’s decision.
- Jackson v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  EWHC 183 (Admin), which concerned a challenge to bereavement support regulations that paid support at a higher rate to a surviving partner if the couple were married or civil partners. The claimants argued, with the Administrative Court in agreement, that these regulations violated Article 14 of the Human Rights Act 1998 taken in conjunction with Article 8.
- The EHRC launched a judicial review against the Secretary of State for Health for failure to move people with learning disabilities and autism into appropriate accommodation, particularly those detained in secure hospitals.
- The BBC reported that thousands of cases of depression had been linked to the rollout of Universal Credit and other welfare reform programmes.
- The BBC reported that vulnerable applicants were facing significant hurdles in applying to the EU Settlement Scheme.
- The BBC reported the story of the mother of an autistic young man who faced a search for over a year to find a suitable college which could cater for his special needs.
- The BBC reported that two women reached out-of-court settlements with letting agents for indirect sex discrimination based on ‘no DSS’ property adverts preventing welfare recipients from applying for rental properties.
- The BBC, following investigations by local authorities, reported that homelessness figures in England were five times higher than official figures suggested.
- The BBC reported on comparative poverty between England and Scotland and why poverty tended to be lower in the latter.
- The BBC reported that poverty rates among pensioners in Wales were increasing.
- The BBC reported that Windrush campaigners criticised the Government for so-called ‘paltry’ compensation provided to those affected by the scandal, with only £62,198 having been paid so far.