This post is for flagging up that there is a much easier way of challenging a local authority’s actions or decisions, policies or practices, than complaining, and it’s not widely publicised. The people charged with discharging this system don’t even agree about its scope, but that doesn’t mean that the words mean what the words say….
It’s use of the Monitoring Officer’s own independent statutory duties to keep a roving eye or ear out, for alleged unlawfulness within his or her council. Its existence means that all you have to do is know enough about law to be able to string 3 or 4 paragraphs together to lay out for a Monitoring Officer a coherent arguable case on why what’s been done, or is about to be done or not done, is simply not defensibly lawful.
This duty was first created under an Act that goes back to 1989, when governance no doubt meant something different to what it tends to mean now.
The attached documents are an explanation of what the Monitoring Officer is there to do, and a table of nearly all the Monitoring Officers in adult social care councils in England and Wales, together with their email addresses. A few are missing and will be added if anyone can give me the information, which should be in the public domain.
There used to be an excel spreadsheet supplied by a data supplier to me for money, but it was a breach of the terms of the licence for me to share that with the public. I have used it to enquire of Monitoring Officers whether they object to their email addresses being publicised here, and where that was the case, have left the name blank, given a generic address instead, or otherwise checked data that is publicly available to advise people how to get in touch with the relevant Officer. The information as to the Officer’s name could not be refused if the council was asked for the person’s contact details and if the council’s receptionist does not know, anyone could use an FOI request to the council to find out who is their designated Monitoring Officer – there has to be one.
If there are references to Acting or Interim in the job title, they may well have changed recently.
There is also a justification for publishing their email addresses, without explicit consent, for Data Protection Purposes. If anyone thinks that making it easier to uphold the law in adult social care, by telling people how to use a remedy that’s been provided through the will of Parliament, is not a legitimate interest, on my part, as a data controller, then they are able to complain about this to the Information Commissioner.
I very much hope that people will put two and two together, maybe buy some of my Webinars about what the legal framework says about adult social care, and equip themselves to do polite, informed battle for their or their loved one’s care packages and budgets.
In the meantime, my team of hand-holders, nationally, can provide well-informed legal acumen to help you through review or assessment, or support you through a referral or challenge, for an affordable fee.
It would be better if people would write themselves to the Monitoring Officer about the absence of independent funded advocacy, but we don’t mind if they’d rather pay US. 🙂
Law firms don’t have to offer legal aid funded services; and very few firms nationally, do legal aid work for community care matters, even if you would qualify, by reference to your means – but there’s a search tool below.) The Public Law Project is now a Charity, and can be a good place to go for advice about where ELSE to go.
If you know of any others, please tell me their names, by email email@example.com.
Don’t forget that you can now go straight to SOME barristers through what is called Direct Professional … or direct public access arrangements: google “community care law” or “social care law” alongside the word barrister and email or telephone the clerk and ask whether these arrangements operate in those chambers or with a specific named barrister whom you’ve found on a search.
Law firms offering community care legal services:
Ben Hoare Bell; Irwin Mitchell; Pannone’s; Bindmans; TV Edwards; DPG Law; Martin Searle Solicitors; Edwards Duthie; Switalski’s; Cartwright King; Ridley & Hall; MG Law; Foster & Foster; Sinclairs; Howells; Stephensons; Jackson Canter; Latimer Lee, Wrigleys; Clarke Wilmott; Julie Burton Law (in Wales); Burroughs Day (Quality Solicitors); Alison Castrey Ltd; David Collins (best for providers arguing about fees, but it is not known whether they take on individuals’ own claims about fees, other than for CHC); Brunswicks (mainly for providers); Bates Wells and Braithwaite (mainly for providers’ arguments and particularly charitable providers).
If you could only afford legal advice if you were financially assisted, you need legal aid. Use this link below, together with the ‘Category’ filter on the linked site, to check out if there’s a firm local to your postcode, with a contract for Community Care work – they are few and far between, these days, but most will deal with you on the phone or online, so distance need not be a problem…