May 31, 2012

Supreme Court ruling hailed as "biggest community care ruling in 15 years"


A Supreme Court ruling made it clear today that local authority resources were not to be taken into account when establishing the needs of disabled people. Previously some councils restricted assessments on the grounds of costs and some did not, which it has been claimed results in a 'postcode lottery for social care'.

This ruling came out of a case in which a profoundly disabled man was appealing over his care package. The man's appeal was dismissed by the Court, but the ruling made it clear that local authorities must assess disabled people based on their needs, rather than what is available in the local authority's budget.

The Independent reports that Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, which represented four charities intervening in the case, said that "the landmark judgment clarified social care law."

Partner Yogi Amin is reported to have said: "This is potentially the biggest community care ruling in 15 yearsAlthough KM's appeal has not been successful, we are pleased that the Supreme Court has now clarified the law with regard to local authorities taking their resources into account when assessing a disabled person's needs."

Simon Foster, head of legal services at Sense, said: "We are delighted that the court has made it very clear that a local authority must assess disabled people in the first instance based on their needs, rather than what is available in the local authority's budget.

"We believe in the principle that a person's needs ought to be assessed in full, without regard to financial considerations. We are also pleased to see the court confirm that a local authority must give sufficient detail when providing direct payments so disabled people can see if the amount is enough to meet their needs."

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