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Thursday, 17 August 2017

Disabled man challenges High Court ruling upholding council's care package cuts

Written by John Aston

A severely disabled man is taking his legal battle over cuts to his care package to the Court of Appeal.

In the first case of its kind, Luke Davey, 40, is challenging a High Court ruling which upheld Oxfordshire County Council's decision to reduce his weekly personal budget by 42%.

Mr Davey, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, is registered blind and dependent on a wheelchair, argues the reductions threaten his well-being and breach the Care Act 2014.

The "well-being principle" is contained in section 1 of the Act and covers, among other things, a vulnerable person's dignity, health and housing and social life.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) says the case is of general importance and is seeking to submit its own submissions to the appeal judges - Lord Justice McFarlane, Lord Justice Bean and Lady Justice Thirlwall.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, the charity's chief executive, said: "Disabled people must be able to live independently and take part in activities others take for granted.

"When assessing the needs of disabled people the local authority should consider the person's ability to have a social life and be an active member of their community, not just basic home care needs.

"This is an important case and could give disabled people a louder voice when their needs are assessed."

In the background is the decision of the Government to axe the Independent Living Fund (ILF) which enabled thousands of severely disabled people to live independently through ILF money and assistance from their local authorities.

After the ILF disappeared, local authorities were left with sole responsibility.

Mr Davey requires assistance with all of his personal care needs and was helped by a team of personal assistants for 23 years, relying, before the cuts, on a care package costing £1,651 per week.

The Independent Living Fund (ILF) provided £730 of that total.

When the ILF closed in June 2015, Oxfordshire council proposed a reduction to his personal budget to £950 per week.

Mr Davey argues the move is both unreasonable and unlawful.

The EHRC says it is the first case to be heard by the appeal court concerning the obligations of local authorities under the Care Act in respect of the assessment and meeting of social care needs.

It plans to argue that the High Court ruling in February which went against Mr Davey conflicts with the principles embodied in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People (UNCRDP), particularly in relation to helping vulnerable people live independently and to be included in the community.

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