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I am a solicitor in the Public Law & Human Rights 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.
“There are legal mechanisms which hospitals and councils can use to try and resolve disputes over a child’s best interests, and what medical treatment they should receive. It was not appropriate in this case for our client to have been placed on a child protection plan and for her family to have been accused of ‘neglect’.
“This led to a situation where there was a complete impasse in providing care to her, and she remained without medical treatment for over a year. Naturally our client is delighted that the High Court has confirmed that the decision taken by the Council was unlawful, and that this never should have happened.
“Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident and as a firm we have seen other cases in the past where local authorities have placed disabled children on child protection plans instead of meeting their needs as a disabled “child in need”.
“Although this latest judgment is obviously specific to the facts of this particular case, this judgment should hopefully provide a warning to other local authorities to ensure they work with families, consider the purpose of the child protection measures, and lawfully apply the relevant guidance, when making these decisions in future.”
“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.”
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