Judge backs council in dispute with elderly disabled woman

    In Khana v London Borough of Southwark the court of appeal dealt
    with a situation where a 91-year-old disabled woman wanted to be
    provided with “normal” accommodation with her husband and family.
    The local authority had assessed her as being in need of
    residential accommodation which it was prepared to provide to the
    husband as well.

    The court emphasised that although the local authority had to
    take into account user’s and carer’s choices and preferences,
    ultimately it was up to the local authority to decide how to meet
    the assessed need, and the local authority had decided that
    “normal” accommodation would not do this.

    If Khana did not accept the accommodation lawfully offered by
    the local authority, then the local authority’s duty to provide
    accommodation would be discharged.

    The court of appeal considered the situation, which did not
    arise in this case, as to what would happen if there were two ways
    of meeting an assessed need which could not be separated in terms
    of cost: one preferred by the local authority and one preferred by
    the user. The court felt, after considering the case on June 28,
    that in these circumstances the user’s preference would probably
    prevail.

    Comment: The case is another example of the court feeling unable
    to interfere in a local authority’s assessment of need simply
    because a user does not agree with it, and shows again that the
    concepts of choice and preference carry little weight so long as
    the local authority can say that it has taken them into
    account.

    Steve Cragg

    Doughty Street Chambers

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