Care Standards Commission faces legal challenge over deregistration

A charity that provides services for people with learning
difficulties in north west England is to launch a judicial review
challenge against the National Care Standards Commission next month
over its refusal to recognise its homes as de-registered.

Steve Cullen, managing director of charity Alternative Futures,
said decisions made by the NCSC about living arrangements for
adults with learning difficulties were in direct opposition to the
principles that underpin the learning difficulties white paper
Valuing People.

In May 2001, Alternative Futures carried out a consultation
exercise to deregister its residential homes for people with
learning difficulties and establish supported tenancies allowing
residents greater independence and access to housing benefit.

While new service models were set up without problem in Cheshire,
Halton and St Helens councils, the former registration and
inspection units in Sefton, Wirral and Knowsley said they did not
recognise deregistration, just weeks after new tenancies had been

Days later, the National Care Standards Commission came into power
and told the charity that voluntarily deregistration before March
2002 had been illegal – despite the fact it had been recognised
elsewhere. Local housing benefit officers were contacted and
ordered not to make any further payments to individuals.

Alternative Futures re-applied to cancel its registration for the
homes in Sefton, Wirral and Knowsley under the new Care Standards
Act 2000. More than five months later, it is still awaiting a

An initial hearing against the actions of the NCSC and Sefton
Council is due to be heard at the High Court in London in

Cullen said: “Failure to win this action will represent a gross
abuse of the human rights of people with learning difficulties. It
will leave the government’s white paper totally redundant, result
in a logistical nightmare regarding re-registration, and leave many
service providers facing financial ruin.”

Director of adult services at the NCSC Heather Wing said that
decisions about when it was appropriate to cancel a home’s
registration were made on a case by case basis so it was perfectly
conceivable that an organisation’s homes could in one area meet the
criteria but fail in another. Sefton Council declined to

Meanwhile, a second charity that provides services to adults with
learning difficulties is appealing against a decision by the NCSC
to cancel registration for only eight of its 11 homes in Knowsley,
despite the homes providing very similar services.

“There are issues of interpretation and consistency here,” a
spokesperson for the charity said.

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