JUDGES have ruled Harrow Council must find accommodation for a mother-of-four who was 'never self-sufficient' and is entirely dependent on hand-outs.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) said Nimco Hussain Ibrahim is entitled to housing assistance because she is the carer of two Danish children who are enrolled in state school and have a right under European Union (EU) law to continue their education.
Consequently, the council must add the family to its housing waiting list and, because of their eligibility, they will qualify straight away for a three-bedroom house.
The case escalated through the British legal system until the council made a last-ditch plea to the Court of Appeal which referred the case to the ECJ for resolution. In a judgment published on February 23, the ECJ instructed the court to rule in favour of Ms Ibrahim, who was supported by Shelter, the homeless charity.
Judges were told Somalian Ms Ibrahim is married to a Danish citizen, Mr Yusuf, who worked in the UK from October 2002 to May 2003 and claimed incapacity benefit from June 2003 to March 2004.
They have four children together aged between one and nine; the three eldest came with her when she joined her husband in the UK in February 2003, and the youngest was born here.
All four - three boys aged, 12, 10 and four plus a girl, eight - have Danish nationality and the two eldest children attend school in this country.
In 2004, Ms Ibrahim separated from her husband after he left the country.
In 2007, she applied to Harrow Council for housing assistance, a claim rejected since it was considered neither of the parents were residents under EU law.
"Ms Ibrahim was never self-sufficient. She does not work and depends entirely on social assistance to cover her living expenses," court documents reveal.
Ms Ibrahim appealed against the council's decision to the Clerkenwell and Shoreditch County Court and won, only for the council itself to appeal to the Court of Appeal which forwarded the case to the ECJ for determination.
The ECJ judgment says the right of residence in an EU country of both the children in education there and their primary custodian - irrespective of his or her nationality - is not subject to whether they can demonstrate 'sufficient resources or comprehensive sickness insurance cover' and is not lost simply because their EU citizen husband or parent, through whom they gained the very right of residence in the first place, dies or departs the country.
"We are very concerned with this outcome, as it appears to establish a major new precedent over benefit claims.
Harrow Council is studying the full implications of the ruling but it could well prove to be a floodgates judgment in that people who have not yet contributed to this country or who do not have the means to sustain themselves, can now seek immediate help from welfare services.
Rather than having a proper open debate about what our immigration policy should be, with that policy voted upon by our MPs in Parliament, we are now seeing a European Court determining British immigration policy."