There is more to Article 8 of the Human Rights Act than the right to family life. Article 8 protects the right to private and family life, home and correspondence. This blog is about ‘home’. The right to home under Article 8 is not the right to a home, it is the right to respect for the home you already have. For many people, the only concept of home they know is residential care; and to have that home taken away is life altering. In a recent judgment Clarke v London Borough of Sutton, it was also life threatening.


Perry’s story

Perry Clarke is a 27 year old man who until 2013 had his care and support provided by the Borough of Enfield. In 2013 he became ordinarily resident in Sutton. Perry has severe epilepsy and mental health and behavioural difficulties. When Enfield passed his care on to Sutton, they recommended that his care continued to be provided by the specialist service that had delivered his care package since 2011.

Sutton did not initially reassess Perry. When they did it was decided that instead of the specialist care package Perry had at the time, where he was supported by staff who had the skills to administer lifesaving medication, he would be moved to a non-specialist service that was nearly a thousand pounds a week cheaper. Perry’s lawyers applied to the court to challenge the decision, which was made against all evidence that suggested his needs had not changed and the new care package would not meet his needs.

Sutton agreed the decision engaged Perry’s Article 8 right to private and family life, home and correspondence, which meant that those rights should be considered in the decision. The judge found that the new care provider proposed by Sutton had not managed to explain how they would manage Perry’s health conditions under a significantly reduced care plan. The local authority were moving Perry from his own tenancy, his own home, to a place the local authority had chosen where there was no care plan in place for his needs – a potentially life threatening decision. Perry should also have been involved in the decision making process about his own life and home. This breached his right to respect for home and private life and the judge overturned the local authority’s decision to terminate the original care package.

Vital protection for people

The right to respect for the home you have has been used by BIHR’s partner organisations to challenge decisions by local authorities to move residents in long-term social care away from the homes they have lived in for years and the people they have lived with. There are plenty of laws that protect the traditional idea of ‘home’ but only the Human Rights Act recognises that living in residential care is as much a home to the people who live there and only the Human Rights Act protects people from the wrenching consequences of losing that home.