Plans to cut services for disabled children in Warwickshire ‘fall short of requirements’

The council's Local Offer was said to be deficient
The council's Local Offer was said to be deficient

Some of the county council’s plans to cut support for disabled children ‘fell short of statutory requirements’, a judge has said, despite finding in favour of the council on three out of five grounds.

The claimants, two disabled children known as L and P, sought a High Court judicial review against Warwickshire County Council’s proposed Local Offer consultation, which included changes to disabled children’s social care and new criteria for accessing assessments and services.

The proposals were introduced by the council in February 2013 to make target savings of £1.786m from its budget for disabled children’s services.

Mr Justice Mostyn, sitting in the High Court, found that Warwickshire’s Local Offer was deficient as it fell “a considerable distance short of the statutory requirements”.

The judge also found the council was in breach of its legal duty maintain a single register of disabled children.

The claimants’ families, alongside, a group of local parents have been lobbying the council to try and secure a fair and transparent consultation on the council’s plans to reduce expenditure, which includes restricted access to the Short Breaks service.

A Warwickshire County Council spokesperson said: “The court judgment found in favour of the council on three out of five grounds cited by the claimant against the council’s decision-making process around redesign of services for disabled children and young people.

“The principal ground of challenge was that the council was under a common-law obligation to consult before deciding to make a cut in a budget for services for vulnerable people.

“This was not a view held by the court and we are pleased with this judgment confirming that our processes are lawful and proper.

“On two issues the court did support the complainant concerning the development of the council’s proposed local offer for children with special educational needs and disabilities and the absence of a voluntary disability register.

“The council has already taken steps to ensure these issues are addressed by March 31 2015.”