A 13-year-old child from the Wigan borough whose special needs were previously overlooked by the local authority has now won the right to have his care needs reassessed after a legal challenge.
The teenager’s parents have been requesting help from the local authority for six years, to help them care for their son who has Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD and challenging behaviour issues. But it was only after a legal intervention last August that he was finally assessed as a child in need for the purpose of the Children Act. He now attends a school to facilitate his special needs.
Unfortunately as a result of the assessment, little service provision was actually made by the local authority to meet his assessed and identified needs and the family continued to struggle with his behaviour on a daily basis.
His parents were concerned that he was unable to socialise with his peers without support due to his condition and they requested direct payments from the local authority to enable them to employ a personal carer to take him out. They also requested respite to provide the family with a break from their caring roles.
Wigan Council refused to properly consider the families entitlement to either direct payments or respite and refused to provide transport to and from social activities for him.
The case was subsequently closed and no services were provided.
A Judicial review application was made by Stephensons Solicitors LLP in January this year, and the matter went to trial.
The Judge ordered that the claim for judicial review be allowed, the decision to close the case be quashed, that the Care Plan and Assessment of Need undertaken by Wigan Council be remitted for reconsideration by Wigan Council to include the issue of transportation for the child. He also ordered that the Carer’s Assessment undertaken by the local authority be remitted for reconsideration to include the issue of respite for the family.
Mike Pemberton, a partner at Stephensons and leader of the firm’s Civil Liberties Unit, said: “The practical implications of this decision are that all three issues of transport, respite provision and direct payments will all have to be assessed and considered again but with reference to the correct legal and procedural guidance.
“We are hopeful that the family will now get all the help and support from the local authority that is so desperately needed and which they consider crucial to the future development of their child.”
The child’s father, who cannot be named, said after the hearing: “Me and my family were at breaking point, having been on a roundabout with social services for more than six years.
“All children have rights by law, and social services have to do what the law says. I went to Stephensons and they took us off that roundabout, they stood by our family and as they know the law better than parents do, they helped us stand up and be counted.”
NOTE: The Court Order states that anonymity is granted for both the claimant child and his father, the litigation friend, so no names either are to be released to the press.
Stephensons is one of the country’s largest providers of legally aided services and has 30 partners and more than 350 staff in Manchester, Wigan, Bolton, Leigh and St Helens. The firm’s Civil Liberties department is recommended by Chambers UK, an independent guide to the legal profession.
Media information: Lianne Tracey
Stephensons Solicitors LLP
T: 01942 774225