Homeless woman wins appeal against State’s failure to pay her Jobseeker’s Allowance

A woman who was refused Jobseeker’s Allowance while she was homeless has won her appeal against the State.

In early 2016, the woman in question was working part-time in a retail job in Dublin and earning €60-€180 per week. Due to her low income, she was also eligible to access social welfare payments.  She subsequently became homeless and started sleeping on friends’ couches, staying in hostels and sleeping rough at rail stations and in Dublin Airport.

Due to the fact that she could no longer establish that she was “currently residing” in the Clondalkin area, she was not paid Jobseeker’s allowance between April and September 2016. The Clondalkin social welfare office said they could not deal with her because she was homeless and recommended she contact the homeless unit. This unit could not help her either as they said they did not deal with Jobseeker’s Allowance.

She subsequently lodged judicial review proceedings in the High Court and then appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Department of Social Protection argued that the application was closed in May 2016 because the applicant failed to provide the necessary documents to prove she was living in the area.

In handing down the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Robert Haughton said that the Minister for Social Protection had acted unlawfully by requiring the woman to prove that she was currently residing in the particular catchment area when applying for Jobseeker’s Allowance and by failing to implement any appropriate process for homeless people to access this allowance.

The Minister had argued that the case was now pointless as the arrears owed to the applicant had been repaid. The Judge refused damages as there was insufficient evidence to dispute that the sum of €2,450 paid to the woman after the case was initiated did not amount to a full payment of arrears.

The Court went on to make declarations to ensure that “all possible support” was given to homeless people who have entitlements and because this woman might find herself in a similar situation again where she cannot prove that she is currently residing in a particular social welfare catchment area.  

Click here for the decision in Kozinceva -v- The Minister for Social Protection.




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