Disabled care cuts deemed unlawful
25 April 2011
by Stephen Gregory
Planned cuts to disabled care by Birmingham City Council have been found to be illegal in a High Court case.
In an attempt to cut £118m from its expenditure, the council – joint-run by Conservative and Liberal Democrat representatives – had proposed to reduce the amount of care that was granted to around 4,000 disabled individuals through to 2014. Representatives of four disabled people who would have been affected by the cuts took the case to court, and it was found that the proposals were in breach of the Disability Discrimination Act, which ensures that people with disabilities are treated fairly.
A relative of a plaintiff stated that “her quality of life would fall dramatically” if the funding was cut, as she “relies on the council's support to assist her with daily living skills and to support and promote her independence, including assisting with personal care tasks, preparation of meals and safely accessing the community.”
The court agreed with the argument that the care was “hugely beneficial” and that it would infringe the law if it were to be taken away.
Tony Rabaiotti of Unison, the public service trade union, said that many disabled people had been frightened by the proposals, and that “the council now has the opportunity to pause, think again and work with us to maintain quality social care provision for the people of Birmingham "
A spokesman for the council stated “The generality of the budget is not affected, this is a decision about the eligibility criteria for adult social care. Like all councils, Birmingham faces a huge financial challenge, with adults and communities having to make a share of the savings like all other directorates, and we need to assess the impact of this decision.
“It is also important to point out that this judgement is about the process we went through with regard to the Disability Discrimination Act, not the actual decision about where savings should be made”.