IS it always unlawful to cut a care package/budget, if a person’s needs haven’t CHANGED?

The Care and Support Alliance says that 29% of disabled 18 – 64-year-olds who rely on council funding have had their care funding cut over the last year.

When Mencap challenges decisions, they are frequently reversed – probably because the Powers that Be KNOW that cuts made without due process or without a coherent rationale are unlawful.

CASCAIDr, the charity that I run, finds this too.

It’s our opinion, at CASCAIDr, from the scenarios that we’ve had referred to us, that local authorities’ senior management turn a blind eye to front line staff being ‘economical with the truth’ or incompetently legally illiterate.

People do have enforceable legal rights to a transparent, rational and sufficiently funded budget to meet their assessed eligible unmet needs appropriately.

But vulnerable, dependent adults, with carers at the end of their tethers, don’t often challenge. They can also find it hard to access a competent law firm with any spare capacity for more legal aid work in this field.

That’s why CASCAIDr was launched – and we’ve been at it for 10 months now…

But we know that it’s not necessarily unlawful to make cuts to a care plan, even when a person’s needs haven’t actually changed.

The Care Act did not change that legal principle, and actually made it a bit easier to get away with, if the council staff know and apply the law about revising a care plan because of a change of circumstances.

The ‘change’ can be something to do with the price going down for whatever reason; or other sources of input or technological change, becoming available – not just a change in the person’s condition, or their ‘inability to achieve’ or the impact to their wellbeing, thereby arising, with regard to the eligibility domains.

Many councils, however, are having no specialist training whatsoever in the legal framework and how law works. This means that if the affected person has no clued-up advocate, and no legal awareness, they won’t be able to show the council the error of its ways. Just complaining will likely make no difference whatsoever, because the complaints staff can’t or won’t tell the council’s management that they are acting unlawfully.

So, CHALLENGING the legality of what’s gone on, is what CASCAIDr will do for service users and family carers. We do it because we believe in the rule of law, and that any government ought to fund what Parliament thought should be enshrined in legislation – a social care safety net that operates to an adequate, appropriate and dignified level.

We’ve also created lots of FREE material about people’s legal rights, and the importance of legal literacy when dealing with councils and CCGs in what is a cash-strapped and under-staffed climate for the whole sector.

Our Myth-Busting Briefing shoots down 26 popular misconceptions about what’s legal (and what’s not legal AT ALL), in adult social care.

Our Case List covers 20 years’ worth of judgments from the Administrative Court, and explains what the precedents are still good for, when asserting a person’s legal rights to a decent care package or budget.

If you would like to receive either of those documents for your own use, just email on [email protected]

Belinda Schwehr

About Belinda Schwehr

Belinda has been a lawyer (both a barrister and then a solicitor advocate), a law lecturer at a university, and a trainer and consultant specialising in Adults' Social Care legal framework issues. She first became interested in social care law when the Gloucestershire case was running between 1995 and 1997, never having met a real live social worker, before that point! She regards social care as the most interesting field of law she has ever been associated with, combining aspects of public law, the regulation of power, economics, management skills, EU law, procurement, criminal law, incapacity law, land law and contract, and doesn't expect ever to tire of the stuff. If the Care Act is going to be the last word on it, however, she would like to think it was worth all that sitting there and getting fatter whilst thinking about how it should all hang together! She does glass craftwork and house renovations for a hobby, has one son in his twenties, and about 5000 online friends... soon to be 50,000, with any luck!

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