A legal challenge has been lodged against a council policy to limit social care spending. A 16-year-old disabled man, known as D, has applied for a judicial review of Worcestershire Council's expenditure cap policy which would, usually, limit council spending on community-based care packages for those aged under 65 to the cost of meeting their needs in residential. Some providers say that this will linit the possibillities for independent living in the community and as a result will ultimately mean that younger adults will be forced into residential care.
Grounds for legal challenge
D, who lives with his parents, has been diagnosed with a moderate learning disability and epilepsy, and also has a degree of challenging behaviour. The soliciors representing him, Irwin Mitchell, say the challenge has been brought on two grounds:
- That the council's consultation on the policy, from May to September 2012, was not lawful, on the basis that it did not provide sufficient information about the proposals;
- The council failed to fulfil its duty, under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, to have due regard to the need to promote equality for disabled people, by not adequately assessing the policy's impact on disabled people.
The public law specilist solicitors Irwin Mitchell said D's family want him to move into supported living in the future, but his needs meant he would require 24-hour support.
The Council said
“If the council’s policy remains unchallenged, the costs of such a care package in the community may well be more than the costs of residential care. "This would mean that D would be forced into institutional care whilst his non-disabled peers are able to continue living in the community. It is cases such as this which we are concerned that the council has not properly considered through his consultation and decision making process. The council said the imminent legal proceedings made it inappropriate to comment on the policy, which would apply to new service users and those whose needs had changed significantly. However, last year it denied claims that the policy amounted to a cap on funding on care packages in the community and said that "nobody would be forced to live in a residential home as a result of the policy".
"The purpose of the policy is to use the cost of residential care as a starting point for the reasonable cost of meeting needs in the community and working with individuals to develop a package of care that balances choice and cost in a context that recognises choice is not limitless,"
The Council has estimated that the policy would result in savings of £200,000 in its first full year of implementation and £500,000 over the first four years. The Council is apparently unable to say how many people will be affected by the policy.