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Council's social care cuts unlawful
Wednesday 16 November 2011
Isle of Wight's restrictions on eligibility for adult social care are the latest to be overturned by the high court
A high court judge ruled, on Friday (11 November), that Isle of Wight Council had acted unlawfully in restricting eligibility criteria.
Previously, the council had allocated a social care budget to all adults assessed to be at critical or substantial risk. But in February, it voted to restrict this to those at critical risk only, following government cuts.
However, the change was challenged by lawyers representing two men with a learning disability and autism, named as JM and NT, both of whom required care.
The judge’s decision is the latest in a string of court decisions that have overturned such cuts. In May, another high court judge decided that Birmingham City Council had acted unlawfully in similarly restricting care to those deemed at critical risk. Last Wednesday, a judge told Sefton Council on Merseyside to reconsider plans to freeze fees paid to private care homes for elderly residents for the second year running.
In a statement, Isle of Wight Council said it “was required to make substantial budget savings within a short timeframe, while at the same time protecting those who were most vulnerable and in need of support”. But it added: “We will immediately comply with the judge's ruling and return to the previous eligibility threshold whilst we consider our next steps. We will not be appealing the decision.”
Mencap welcomes the ruling and hopes it will send a strong message to other local authorities that are unfairly penalising vulnerable people.
“Individuals with a learning disability need social care packages to live their lives, yet many local authorities are cutting vital support, such as day centre allocation and short breaks provision for carers, which have a huge and detrimental impact on many of the individuals and families that we work with,” said David Congdon, Mencap’s head of campaigns and policy.
“All of this is being done in the name of cost saving, yet tightening eligibility criteria in this way is a false economy, as those who do not receive the support that they need may well find their needs increasing to ‘substantial’ and ‘critical’.”
Find out more about Mencap's campaign to fight the cuts