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Public Law Expert Reveals Importance Of Council Budget Guidelines

Specialist Involved In Cases Against Local Authorities


Guidance published by the Government last year setting out its expectations for councils considering changing funding to the voluntary sector is hugely important to charities and other third sector organisations, a public law expert at Irwin Mitchell has outlined.

Talking to Third Sector, solicitor Alex Rook outlined that the Best Value Statutory Guidance published by Communities and Local Government in September is vital to charities which have concerns that their funding may be cut.

The document outlines that councils should avoid passing on ‘disproportionate’ reductions by cutting funding levels for voluntary organisations to a larger extent ‘than they take on themselves’.

Alex Rook and the public law team at Irwin Mitchell have been involved in a number of cases against councils in recent months, related to cuts in health and social care budgets either for all residents of the area or in relation to an individual service users needs.

Discussing this issue, he told the publication: “A local authority can deviate from the best value guidance only if it can show there is a good reason to do so.

"It is hard to think of a scenario where there would be a good reason, and I'd imagine the courts would take an unsympathetic approach to anything a council tried to come up with to show that there was.

“In order to prove the effectiveness of the document, you could apply for a judicial review of the council's decision to cut the funding, arguing that it had not given appropriate consideration to the guidance.”

Joe Irvin, of the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action, added: “BV guidance was put together by government, in conjunction with the local government association and charities. We believe it should be taken seriously by all local authorities.”