The First Tier Tribunal (FTT) decision
The FTT rejected the YMCA’s argument that the services were supplied to the LA because there was nothing in the legislation that required the recipient of the services to be the person who paid for them. Instead, there was a supply of services by the YMCA to individuals, which were paid for by the LA. Therefore, the question was whether the services amounted to ‘instruction’ designed to promote the physical or mental welfare of ‘distressed’ persons.
The FTT referred to the Oxford English Dictionary for the definition of the terms ‘distress’ and ‘instruction’. The term ‘distress’ was defined as “Afflicted with pain or trouble, sorely troubled; in sore straits, applied specifically to a person living in impoverished circumstances”, which the FTT found was an accurate description of the people receiving the housing services who stayed in the YMCA hostels.
There were several definitions of the word ‘instruction’, but the one that was found most applicable to the issue at hand was “That which is taught; knowledge or authoritative guidance imparted by one person to another’’.
The FTT also decided that given that the intention of the services supplied by the YMCA was to ensure that individuals could live independently and not be homeless, the services it supplied were designed to promote that persons physical or mental welfare. The FTT therefore dismissed the appeal.