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Kirklees council chiefs face legal challenge on adult social care cuts

Are we about to see a rash of legal proceedings being taken against local authorities who have cut eligibility?

I ask because three families from West Yorkshire have just launched legal proceedings against Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council’s decision to cut to restrict eligibility for care to ‘critical’ cases.

This comes on the back of the case in Birmingham where a high court judge ruled that a decision by his council, Birmingham, to raise its eligibility threshold for care from ‘substantial’ to ‘critical’ was unlawful.

It is also known that campaigners in West Sussex are considering mounting a legal challenge against that council’s decision to raise eligibility from moderate to substantial and view the Birmingham case as of national importance.

Similarly to Birmingham, the Kirklees families are seeking a judicial review on the grounds that the council has failed to undertake a lawful consultation and pay due regard to the need to promote equality under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

The application for a judicial review has been brought on behalf of two adults with brain injuries and a 17-year old man who has spastic tetraplegia who have needs classed as ‘substantial’.

The council launched a consultation exercise earlier in December 2010 as part of plans aimed at reducing the amount of money it spends on adult care as part of its overall spending cuts programme.

The families leading the challenge however believe the process and ultimate decision is unfair and they have instructed national law firm Irwin Mitchell to help fight the plans.

What does this mean for councils? Interesting times are ahead. 

About Jeremy Dunning, senior adult beat journalist