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Council Must Balance Needs of Ratepayers and Residents

PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.

Local councils have a legal responsibility to provide support for people with a disability to assist them to live independently in the community. However, they also have a responsibility to manage their budgets and keep expenditure under control.

The potential for conflict between these two competing aims was at the heart of a recent case involving a young man with learning difficulties who was being cared for at home.

The council adopted a policy of restricting the financial support made available in such cases to the amount it would have had to spend to provide residential care instead of support at home.

The man’s mother challenged the policy, arguing that it would lead to forced institutionalisation, that the consultation process adopted by the council was defective and that it was contrary to the provisions of Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010.

The High Court, in a long judgment, ruled that the council’s policy was justified and that a challenge on procedural grounds must fail.

However, the ruling did imply that determining the council’s duty in such cases requires a careful balancing of its responsibilities to the ratepayers and to local residents in need of care.

Contact us for advice if you wish to challenge a decision of your local council that negatively affects you.

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