Two leading social care lawyers have joined forces with disability campaigners to test in court whether families with disabled children have a legal right to short breaks.
Last November, lawyers advised the Every Disabled Child Matters campaign that there was a “strong argument” that the legal right to short breaks may already be in place in England and Wales.
Paul Bowen, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, and Luke Clements, a professor of law at Cardiff University and consultant solicitor at Scott-Moncrieff, Harbour & Sinclair, Solicitors, recommended that the law should be reformed to clarify and simplify this right.
EDCM is now urging families with disabled children, who have been refused support by their local authority but have been assessed as needing short break services, to participate in a legal test case.
Participants must be on a low income so that the costs of the test case are covered by legal aid.
Although the government has invested £370m over the next three years for short breaks, through the Aiming High for Disabled Children strategy, Steve Broach, campaign manager for EDCM, believes that families should have a legal guarantee that they will continue to receive these services after the three years ends.
“The legal opinion suggests that thousands of families with disabled children have been denied services which may have been theirs by right. That is why we are urging our supporters to come forward to bring a case to court to test the current state of the law,” said Broach.