Woman with learning disabilities seeks Judicial Review of Council’s “flawed” consultation on Supported Living
Date published: 16 December 2016
Vigil against Council's proposed cuts to adult care services
Campaigners in Rochdale are to take their legal battle against Rochdale Council to the High Court as they seek a Judicial Review of the Council’s consultation on proposed changes to the way it provides care and accommodation for vulnerable and disabled adults.
At the centre of the legal row are the Council’s proposals for a remodelling of Supported Living in the Rochdale area. Those concerned about the proposals argue that the plans would lead to a move away from small Supported Living placements of two to four residents with learning disabilities and towards larger group placements.
Experts at Irwin Mitchell representing a concerned resident are challenging the proposals and have already been able to persuade the Council to extend the consultation period.
Rochdale Council argue that the remodelling proposal would lead to a wider range of care and support options being made available to disabled people at a lower cost.
However some local residents have instructed specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell and say they believe the consultation was flawed and unlawful as it did not provide residents with a correct definition of “Supported Living”, giving the misleading impression that this always involves disabled people sharing a home. They also highlight that the consultation did not properly explain the advantages of the current Supported Living model and failed to set out the potential disadvantages of the alternative option of residential care. They argue that this means respondents were unable to make a properly informed view.
Following the closure of the extended consultation on 28 November the family of a local woman with severe learning disabilities, who lives in supported living placement, have instructed Irwin Mitchell to issue legal proceedings at the High Court to trigger a Judicial Review.
Mathieu Culverhouse, a public law expert at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Although the Council has to be commended for extending the deadline for responses and providing ‘easy read’ versions of the consultation, my client is concerned that the information provided was not sufficient to allow those affected to make an informed view on the proposals.
“My client, who is one of many disabled adults in Rochdale who will be affected by the proposals, is now proceeding with an application for Judicial Review, arguing that the Council has failed to give a correct definition of Supported Living in its consultation documents, failed to set out the advantages of the current arrangements and failed to identify the potential disadvantages of the new arrangements it proposes. This means that people who responded to the consultation did so without being aware of the full picture and the full implications of the Council’s proposals.
“The court will be asked to determine whether these flaws mean that the consultation was unlawful and should be quashed.”
The father of the disabled woman bringing the claim said: “I am very concerned about Rochdale Council’s proposals with regard to supported living. The consultation seems unclear and I am worried that the proposals, if implemented, could have a severely detrimental impact on my daughter, as well as other service users within the borough.”
Sheila Downey, the council’s director of adult services, said: “The council must develop a range of different care and support options that meet the different needs of individuals and also provide best value for money. We have been very clear that in future there will be more choice for people with learning disabilities and people will only move into new care arrangements if it meets their needs and they wish to do so. “
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