A High Court judge has given a disabled man permission to bring a legal challenge against a county council after it decided to reduce his care package. The case is thought to be the first of its kind since the Care Act 2014 came into force.
The claimant, Luke Davey, 39, is quadriplegic and has cerebral palsy. His disabilities were caused due to a virus he contracted as a child. Oxfordshire County Council is responsible for providing him with care and support to Mr Davey, who lives in his own adapted home and is supported by a team of carers to live independently.
According to his lawyers, Irwin Mitchell, “despite an assessment in April 2015 stating he needs 24-hours care a day and a stable care package for over 20 years the council took steps to reduce Luke’s funding over the past 12 months down to 17.5 hours which his family, and an independent report said would have a negative effect on his wellbeing”.
The law firm launched legal proceedings in the High Court on his behalf, arguing that Oxfordshire was in breach of the Care Act in not making sufficient payments to meet his care needs. An interim court order was made at the recent permission hearing, requiring the council to continue paying for the full cost of Mr Davey’s current care package until the final hearing (expected to take place later this year).
Rebecca Chapman, the claimant’s solicitor, said: “Luke is an intelligent but vulnerable man who is dependent on a wheelchair, registered blind and relies on support from the council to fund carers so that he can live his life to his full potential. Luke can make his own decisions but requires assistance with all of his personal care needs and activities of daily living and in April 2015 the council assessed him as needing 24 hours care a day. Luke has decided he does not want to be forced to spend time alone.
“An Independent report has stated that the reduced care plan will have a detrimental impact on his wellbeing and independence and Luke, through the support of his family has asked us to challenge the decision to reduce his care.”
Chapman added: “We will argue that the council has duties under the Care Act 2014 and has not taken into account the reasons why the reduced payments will have such a significant detrimental impact on Luke’s health and wellbeing.” Irwin Mitchell will also seek to argue in the case that a reduction in the rates of pay for skilled carers and assistants would be unreasonable and unlawful.
A spokesman for Oxfordshire said: “It would be inappropriate to comment at this stage pending consideration of this case by the Court. In the meantime we continue to work with Mr Davey and his family.”