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Victory in social care cuts case
Thursday 21 April 2011
Landmark ruling in favour of disabled people in Birmingham
The High Court has ruled that Birmingham City Council's plans to cut social care services are unlawful.
As part of a cost-cutting exercise, the council was planning to retain council-funded care only for those whose needs had been assessed as 'critical'.
The case was brought by the families of four disabled people, but the proposals could have affected more than 4,000.
In an interim ruling, Mr Justice Walker said that the proposals did not comply with the Disability Discrimination Act and that the council must review its adult social care budget.
Polly Sweeney, a lawyer who acted on behalf of a 65-year-old woman in the case, said: "We are delighted with the court's decision and very relieved. These individuals and families rely heavily on this care and it would have represented a huge backward step if the funding was removed.
"This case has national significance. Proposals to cut mandatory duties and tighten eligibility for social care are the major issues in the social care sector. This is about saving frontline services for vulnerable and disabled people."
Community care lawyer Luke Clements, who advised families on fighting cuts at Mencap's Big Cuts events, also welcomed the ruling. "Councils that reduce their social care support to a 'critical only' service must realise that they will have to make cuts that don't hit the poorest and most vulnerable. The courts will not stand by and allow people to be subjected to indignity and left at severe risk of harm."
Cuts to services have been causing alarm across the learning disability community. On 11 May, thousands of disabled people will take part in The Hardest Hit march in London, to protest against cuts to benefits and services.
Find out more about fighting cuts