Will this mean fairer care provision from Local Authorities?

Four national charities (Sense, National Autistic Society, RNIB and Guide Dogs) will today obtain clarification from the Supreme Court as to whether a local authority should take an individual’s financial resources into account when they are assessing a person’s needs.

If they’re successful, explains Marcus Weatherby from our London office, the decision will change the way that every local authority in England and Wales assesses the needs of disabled people.

How does the current system work ?

At the moment, Councils follow a decision made in 1997 by the House of Lords. Local authorities assess and meet an individual’s needs merely by taking into account the resources they have available, rather than first establishing the person’s full individual needs.

What are the difficulties with this?

It’s led to considerable geographical variations in care provisions – in effect a ‘post code lottery’. Someone in Truro will not receive the same level of support as someone in Newcastle. This creates unfairness and, say the charities, a lack of any real transparency in the assessment process.

What is today’s case hoping to achieve?

The charities are hoping to force local authorities to introduce a top-down assessment where an individual’s needs are first assessed, and then provided for. They want the process of assessment of an individual’s needs to be the same, regardless of where they live.

Does the change have government approval ?

At a time when the Government seems determined to cut allowances for those with disability, the case has attracted the close attention of the Secretary of State for Health, who has also intervened in the case.

Local authority care is a safety net we all hope not to have to rely on, but like to think is there should we need it. For our clients – especially those who have suffered serious spinal or brain injury – fairness and transparency will, at least, enable them to plan for what look to be difficult times ahead.

Accidents and Disease, Current Controversies, Marcus Weatherby,
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