Legal Concerns Over Social Care Budget Cuts

Lawyers Say Impact Of Cuts Must Be Properly Considered To Protect The Most Vulnerable


By Dave Grimshaw

Specialist lawyers concerned about the impact of cuts to social care are warning local authorities that any implemented changes must go through the correct lawful process or they could face legal challenges from vulnerable people who miss out on support.

Irwin Mitchell’s Public Law team has led challenges to local authorities across the country as the cuts to adult social care services have left some of the most vulnerable people struggling to live independently.

A recent survey by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) showed that councils will have cut £2.7bn from their social care budgets – some 20 per cent - since 2010. But specialist lawyers say that while funds are going down, demands for services are going up creating a void whereby vulnerable people either get less across the board or miss out completely.

In recent years Irwin Mitchell’s public law team has successfully challenged councils in high profile social care cases in Birmingham and the Isle of Wight and is currently acting for other clients who say they are being treated unfairly.

Alex Rook, an expert human rights and social care lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: “What we have seen over the past few years is increasing amounts of money being stripped out of social care budgets by local councils. This is obviously having a massive impact on services and we have been contacted by many people who feel they have unfairly missed out on support they are entitled too.

“In many regions the eligibility criteria is changing for some services, while anecdotally we hear of caps being placed on the amount people can receive. This goes against the very aims and objectives of social care which should be about assessing and then meeting eligible needs to ensure that vulnerable people get the help and support they need rather than distributing services thinly.

“Local Authorities need to ensure that any changes to policies because of cuts to social care funding go through a proper consultation process and consider the full impact on society. If this is not the case, those authorities could face legal challenges from people who believe they have been unfairly treated or discriminated against.”

In one such case, Irwin Mitchell is currently representing a teenager and his family in the High Court against Worcestershire County Council to challenge a policy which they say may force many people into residential care as the Council will place a cap on funding for care packages if people choose to live in the community.

Irwin Mitchell has a national presence and has recently successfully challenged council cuts to individual’s care support and to the closure of day care services in various parts of the UK. 

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Social and Healthcare law.