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Furthering the human rights of disabled people across the North West.

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Presentation on theme: "Furthering the human rights of disabled people across the North West."— Presentation transcript:

1 Furthering the human rights of disabled people across the North West

2  Who are we ?  The legal challenge of Lancashire County council’s cuts to adult social care.  Positives ?  Challenges ? Furthering the human rights of disabled people across the North West

3  Disability Equality (nw) Ltd is a ‘Disabled People’s Organisation’ (i.e disabled people form the majority of our customers, staff, trustees, volunteers and members). We are based in Preston, Lancashire.  All our services are designed and delivered by disabled people in line with the ‘Social Model of disability’.  Our overall aim is to; ‘further the human rights of disabled people’ in the North West (mainly Lancashire). Furthering the human rights of disabled people across the North West

4  6th December 2011- LCC launch their adult social care funding consultation (Dec-Feb). They had to cut £179m from their budget over the next 3 years, and had a legal duty to consult with disabled people on how best to do this and minimise the impact (due regard).  January 2011- Concerns expressed from a DENW member that her support had been cut. Early January 2011 received a telephone call from a social worker to say ‘due to the cuts we can no longer provide help with shopping and cleaning’, 7 th January, received a follow up letter stating same information ‘following review’. Client distressed and at a loss at to how she was going to be able to do her cleaning and shopping. (blanket policy)  January to March 2011 – DENW received over 40 enquiries from disabled people, parents and carers who had either had their support cut or who were worried about it being cut. (mixture of support hours and those for shopping/cleaning)  28 th February 2011- Consultation closes, report and Equality Impact assessments produced for Cabinet.  7 th March 2011 - Irwin Mitchell, on behalf of DENW sent LCC a ‘letter before action’ to start the judicial review process, we didn’t believe that they had paid ‘due regard’ to the needs of disabled people or of the impact the cuts may have.

5  Late March -to give the case a better chance, 2 individuals became the main claimants – this was because LCC have more of a legal responsibility to individuals than to disabled people, and because they could get legal aid. A Judge also granted an ‘interim order for relief’ (individuals support or charges could not change until the final court decision).  The publicity for this brought in around another 80 enquiries. We referred 42 to solicitors at Irwin Mitchells for legal advice and to be added to the ‘interim order for relief’.  31 st March 2011 - Mike Calvert, Cabinet member for Adult services took (or ‘rubber stamped’) the decision, in relation to future provision of social care, to raise the ‘Facs’ banding (from moderate to substantial)- eligibility criteria and increase charges. This was despite the consultation feedback and impact assessments that outlined how ‘detrimental’ this would be.

6  6 th April - Implementation of new eligibility criteria.  April 2011- DENW sent a letter out to all 2’500 members asking them to let us know if they had received cuts or were worried that they might. This brought in a further 100 + enquiries.  12 th April 2011 – Final legal proceedings were issued against LCC.  6 th June - Implementation of new charging policy.  7 th June 2011 - Judge Pelling QC granted ‘permission to proceed’ with a full hearing.  20 th & 21 st July 2011 – A full hearing was held at Manchester High Court with Mr Justice Kenneth Parker. At the end of the hearing, he went away to think about the case.  8th September 2011 - he announced his decision and found in favour of LCC. He didn’t think they had acted illegally, we disagreed.  September 2011 –Appeal lodged.

7  We challenged ! The first time disabled people (as individuals and a community) in Lancashire have used the legislation to challenge the local authorities ‘blanket decisions/policies’ and consultation.  Around 45 people benefitted from legal advice and the interim order for relief, so their support package and charges stayed the same, between April and September.  In some cases LCC admitted they were wrong and support was reinstated before the court hearing.  All those involved (individuals and groups) are now DENW members and have accessed other things we do.  Before the case went to court, they admitted the decision (blanket policy) to remove support for shopping & cleaning was illegal. (quietly)  Disabled People, Disability Rights and DENW got lots of positive publicity.  We learnt more about our rights and how to use them, and held an event to share that learning with 70 of our members.

8  We received a number of calls from people asking if their disability benefits would be affected as they didn’t understand the difference.  The majority of people contacting us didn’t have any ‘paperwork’ regarding their support package/plan and most didn’t know whether they had been assessed as ‘Low, moderate, substantial or critical’, or how their current charges had been worked out.  We sent out over 2’000 letters to our individual members as many callers were telling us that until they heard that we were challenging they didn’t think anything could be done about it. This was costly (time, money & resources) and generated a lot of additional work for our other services.  We received many calls/messages from other service providers saying they will refer people to us for support but they can’t send us any evidence (even though they had plenty) for fear of losing their LCC contracts.  Not everyone was positive about the challenge – internally or externally.  It’s very much like suddenly having an extra service to run/manage without notice – we had to react immediately both to the solicitor’s/judges request for information and to our members for support – this has an effect on time and resources for staff and trustees.  It’s really hard listening to so many stories from individuals who are affected, and who are very often quite distressed when they contact us.  There is a long term impact/consequence – what didn’t we do whilst we were doing this ! 

9  It was the right thing to do !  How could we not ?  We (Trustees, Members & Staff) feel very strongly that if we say we are a DPO then we must act as one and put disabled people’s needs before those of our funders.

10 Furthering the human rights of disabled people across the North West

11 103 Church Street, Preston. PR1 3BS Tel: 01772 558863 Text: 07544 809806 Follow us on: Facebook: Disability Equality (nw) Ltd Twitter:: DisabilityNW Furthering the human rights of disabled people across the North West

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