Court challenge against Manchester social care cuts fails
(27 October 2011)
Two disabled people have lost their High Court challenge over a council’s decision to slash spending on social care services.
They had sought a judicial review of Manchester City Council’s plans to cut spending on adult social care by a total of £39.5 million over two years through increased charges, with about 75 per cent of disabled people likely to pay more for their care.
They had argued at the High Court in Manchester that the council failed to consult properly over the cuts and breached its equality duties under the Disability Discrimination Act.
Although Mr Justice Ryder dismissed the judicial review, he has yet to publish his reasons for finding in favour of the council.
A solicitor for the two disabled people, Mathieu Culverhouse, from Irwin Mitchell, said: “My clients are naturally disappointed with the result and will await the full judgment of the court before deciding what steps to take next.”
But he said the case had forced the council to clarify its proposals and to confirm that it would continue to meet disabled people’s eligible needs.
Liz Bruce, the council’s director of adult services, said: “We’ve carried out detailed consultations, and have looked at every option to try our very best to mitigate the impact of the cuts – and ensure that our policies are the fairest we could draw up in these difficult times.
“We are really pleased that this has been recognised by this judicial review and we are now focused on delivering the savings, whilst at the same time doing everything we can to safeguard the most vulnerable in our city.”
Meanwhile, two disabled men challenging cuts by another local authority are waiting to hear the outcome of their judicial review.
The case, which was heard over two days at the High Court in London this week, involved the decision by Isle of Wight Council to tighten eligibility for support and increase charges, which could see 2,000 disabled people on the island lose some or all of their support.
Lawyers for the two men argued that there were failures in the council’s consultation process and a lack of clarity over exactly how the changes would affect disabled people.
Campaigners say the council’s policy has left many people “confused and worried” over whether they will be eligible for support.
The judge is expected to deliver his ruling in the next fortnight.
The two cases are just the latest in a series of high-profile judicial reviews of decisions by public bodies to slash services and spending in the wake of the government’s deficit reduction plan.
News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com