Hancock faces legal challenge over ordinary residence ruling

Council says determination by health and social care secretary contrary to statutory guidance

Matt Hancock
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock

Story updated 26 June 2020

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock is facing a legal challenge in relation to an ordinary residence decision that a council alleges is contrary to existing statutory guidance.

The secretary of state’s determination, which has now been published, relates to an ordinary residence dispute between councils in relation to responsibility for section 117 aftercare under the Mental Health Act 1983.

Worcestershire council, who was found to be responsible for the person’s care under the ruling, has challenged the determination.

A spokesperson for the council said: “The determination creates a level of uncertainty as to the legal position in identifying which local authority is responsible for meeting section 117 after-care duties and is contrary to the secretary of state’s own statutory guidance on this issue. We have ensured that the care provided has not been negatively impacted.”

The issue concerns who should be responsible for a person’s care when they are detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 when ordinarily resident in a particular area, then move to a second area to receive care, from where they are then detained a subsequent time and discharged for aftercare.

Section 117(3) states that a person’s ordinary residence for the purposes of aftercare is determined by the place where they were ordinarily resident immediately prior to their detention. This applies even if they are discharged to a second area and then move to a third one.

However, the Care Act statutory guidance states that, if a person ordinarily resident in area A is discharged to area B, and is then detained again, the local authority in area B would become responsible for their aftercare.

The ruling in question says that the local authority in the area in which the person was ordinarily resident before their first detention – area A in the example above – would remain responsible for the person’s care even if they were detained again from area B.

The Department of Health and Social Care has said that the Care Act guidance no longer represents the secretary of state’s position and it would be updated when the Worcestershire case has concluded. Pending that, Hancock will not adjudicate on disputes concerning this aspect of ordinary residence.

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4 Responses to Hancock faces legal challenge over ordinary residence ruling

  1. Dan June 24, 2020 at 7:11 am #

    We unnecessarily waste far too much public money arguing because of budgets.

    • A Man Called Horse June 24, 2020 at 7:22 pm #

      Seems clear the person should retain their address prior to a move to another area. Would be surprised if that was not the case. It is always about budgets look at the CCGs in Health constantly reviewing away people’s Free NHS care and dumping on Local Authorities.

  2. Paul Graham June 24, 2020 at 6:50 pm #

    Can I ask if an adult is placed in an ‘out of area’ social care placement.
    When living at the placement their MH deteriorates resulting in being subject to a MH section 3 and placed in Hospital. Will be subjected to 117 aftercare and due to his out of area placement given notice he has now moved back into his originally authority.

    Who is responsible for his 117 aftercare? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thankyou

    • Anonymous June 27, 2020 at 8:42 am #

      His OR has not changed, so it should be the original placing authority.