Croydon Council has spent over £300,000 on a court case against a disabled mother of three who fought a decision not to house her.

The south London council recently took the case concerning their obligation to house unintentionally homeless residents to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court decision established that Croydon Council could be within its right to refuse to house a homeless resident if they have proven housing them would lead to the detriment of others in the borough.

However the court dismissed an appeal from the council around whether they demonstrated they did everything within their power to house the woman.

According to experts, the result of this case could have wide-reaching implications for the borough and how the council handles homelessness applications.

The outcome also offers cash-strapped councils like Croydon a potential pay to avoid paying costly housing bills if they provide adequate justification.

The focus of the dispute centres around a disabled homeless woman and her family and whether Croydon Council has a legal obligation to house them, at a time when the council is struggling financially.

A freedom of information request issued by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) has revealed that the council paid £305,038.31 in legal fees since the case was first heard in 2020.

The recipient of these costs is the London-based law firm, Brown Jacobson, who are ‘engaged under contract with the council’.

They added: “Browne Jacobson are instructed from time to time on a wide range of matters, including planning, social care and education, governance, prosecutions, investigations and litigation matters.”

This is not the only case currently being fought by the council.

They have also reportedly spent at least £150,000 on an ongoing employment tribunal case to support its chief executive CEO Katherine Kerswell was alleged to have acted in a racist manner towards former council director Hazel Simmonds.

These publicly funded court outings are set against the backdrop of Croydon’s recent financial difficulties, which saw the council effectively declare bankruptcy three times within the space of two years.

When approached for comment, a representative from Croydon Council told the LDRS: “It should be noted that it was important for the case to be heard by the Supreme Court as the previous High Court decision had placed additional burdens on local authorities by making a mandatory order for the placement of a homeless household.

“The Supreme Court hearing was essential to re-clarify the issue of resources when dealing with homelessness applications. The Supreme Court ruling restored the status quo with regard to local authority resources.”