A single mother who claims she was discriminated against by an Orthodox Jewish housing association based in Stamford Hill has had her appeal unanimously dismissed by the Supreme Court.

The principal appellant, a single mother with four small children, two of whom have autism, was identified by Hackney London Borough Council as having a priority need for social housing in a larger property.

However, she had to wait longer for suitable housing as she is not a member of the Orthodox Jewish community and so larger properties owned by the Agudas Israel Housing Association Ltd (AIHA) – a housing charity for the Haredi community which provides less than 1% of social housing in Hackney – were not available to her.

The appellant subsequently issued proceedings against the council and the housing charity, alleging that she had suffered unlawful direct discrimination on grounds of race or religion contrary to the Equality Act 2010.

The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal, ruling that the housing charity’s allocation policy is proportionate and lawful under the Equality Act 2010. A proportionality assessment first requires the identification of a legitimate aim and, secondly, consideration of whether the measures taken to promote that aim are proportionate.

In his judgment, Lord Sales wrote that the allocation policy ‘operates as a direct counter to discrimination suffered by the Orthodox Jewish community in seeking to obtain housing in the private sector’. 

He added that ‘in circumstances in which demand from that community far exceeds supply, allocation to non members is not a realistic prospect in the foreseeable future’.

‘There are still many Orthodox Jews in Hackney whom AIHA cannot accommodate and who still suffer the disadvantages associated with the relevant protected characteristic,' he said. 

Ita Symons MBE, chief executive of AIHA said: ‘We are proud that we have worked successfully alongside Hackney Local Authority for so many years, and that hundreds of families have benefitted from our work. We have invested a huge amount into today’s judgment and it now proves, beyond any doubt, that our policies have been vindicated and protect members of our community.’