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I am a solicitor in the Public Law department at Irwin Mitchell. I joined Irwin Mitchell as a trainee solicitor in 2011 and qualified into the department in 2013.
I specialise in administrative and public law, helping individuals to secure statutory services and to investigate or challenge decisions which have been made by public bodies.
I act on behalf of vulnerable adults and their families in health and welfare disputes within the Court of Protection, when the Court is asked to decide what is in the best interests of an individual who lacks the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.
I represent disabled adults and children in judicial review proceedings concerning local authorities' duties to provide them with sufficient care and support. I also act in cases which challenge local government policies or statutory guidance, where these appear to be unlawful or discriminatory.
I also specialise in education law. I act in disputes which relate to an individual's education provision, including challenges to education provision for children with Special Educational Needs.
“The proposed plans to close the Newmarket Hub obviously came as a significant shock for Lynda and Jack, as well as others who use the services provided by Leading Lives on a daily basis.
“The users of services should have been consulted before any decision to close the facility was made, and we are pleased the council has now launched a full public consultation after we informed them of our intention to challenge the closure.
“We will now be watching closely to ensure that they take into account the views of the local service users, including Lynda, as part of their full consultation.”
“The government has stated in recent years that its policy is to help disabled people become more independent. However, despite numerous measures having been implemented through legislation such as the Care Act 2014 to increase disabled people’s access to the community, it is very disappointing to see that benefit changes are having the opposite effect.
“The effects of having an adapted vehicle withdrawn are significant – we are aware of clients who have lost their jobs and subsequently their ability to live in their own home, after having their vehicle taken away.
“The government is currently carrying out a review of the PIP scheme, due to be completed in 2017. As part of that review we hope the government will reconsider whether it is rational to continue with such changes when they may result in individuals relying more heavily on social services when their vehicles are withdrawn.
“We are also aware that benefits claimants are having Motability vehicles withdrawn from them even pending an appeal of their assessment. Such an approach is concerning given the current high success rate of appeals against the PIP assessments – the cost of adapting new vehicles from scratch following a successful appeal is likely to be considerable.”
“Local authorities are severely cash-strapped and over the last year we have seen evidence in our cases that many of them are not promoting a marketplace in care services by commissioning enough providers.
“We suspect this is mainly due to financial constraints. There has not yet been a case go through the courts looking at the extent of local authorities’ duties in this area, but this would help provide clarity on what local authorities are required to do in these difficult financial times.
“Massive budgetary cuts are possibly the biggest obstacle hampering the Act’s success. This year many local authorities have made cuts to the funding for adult social care so the question is, how can the Care Act duties be enforced when there may not be enough money in the system?
“The duties of local authorities under the Care Act are not optional and they must comply with them but with cuts to the amount of provision on offer in many areas, councils could run the risk of being challenged in the courts.
“We are particularly concerned that despite the strong wording in the Act, insufficient focus is being placed upon the wellbeing of disabled adults and their carers. We are yet to see a case go through the courts which examines the extent of this duty, or how much reliance can be placed upon it in obtaining better and more person centred care, but such a case would help to clarify the law in this area.”
“Financial changes such as the cap on care costs are now not coming in until 2020 but in the meantime, we have also seen concerns being raised about the impact of the Care Act charging regulations which allow higher rate Disability Living Allowance (care component) to be taken into account by local authorities. This appears to be having an impact upon severely disabled people, who may now have to pay more towards their care. It would be very disappointing if the Care Act had the outcome of making severely disabled people worse off than before.
“The good news is that since the Care Act came into force a year ago, we have seen positive feedback from carers which indicates they are enjoying better access to more assessments and support. So while there is more work to be done to ensure the Act lives up to its full potential, it shows a step in the right direction.”
“It’s really positive that so many people are happy with the principles set out in the Care Act and believe it will be a force for good. However those involved in making sure the act is complied with are clearly concerned about how they will be able to deliver on the legislation, and funding is seen as the biggest issue.
"The new Care Act provides clarity on what both disabled adults and their carers are entitled to, and ensures that their wellbeing is paramount. It should also create consistency across the country in relation to the level of support available.
"This was the biggest change to adult social care in two decades and it places an important emphasis on ensuring those who need support the most are able to access it.
"However, the government has already confirmed that further care funding reforms in the Care Act, such as the cap on care costs, will be postponed, and it is essential that adequate funding is made available to local authorities to support those with care needs in their area. Since the Care Act was introduced, we have been approached by a number of clients who feel that their needs are not being met under the new legislation."