Manchester City Council social care cuts ‘not unlawful’

Manchester City Council’s planned cuts to its adult care budget are not unlawful, a judicial review has found.

Mr Justice Ryder dismissed a claim against the council by two disabled and elderly applicants.

Barristers for the pair claimed the changes did not follow the government’s disability guidelines and the council consultation was unfair.

The council countered that the budget was developed to safeguard and meet the needs of the most vulnerable people.

Sitting at the Civil Justice Centre in the city, Mr Justice Ryder did not reveal the reasons for his judgement although a written ruling is expected in the next few weeks.

Manchester City Council is looking to save nearly £39m from its annual £166m social care budget over two years.

The judicial review was on behalf of two anonymous claimants known as “D”, a 74-year-old man left paralysed by a stroke in 1999, and “S”, a 78-year-old woman who has brain injuries and physical disabilities.

‘Poor consultation’
The review heard that D, who suffers from epilepsy, walks with the aid of a stick and needs support with dressing, washing and shopping, with his son providing 70 hours of unpaid care a week.

S, who is also looked after by her son, has problems with her memory and inoperable breast cancer. Her family has been in a dispute with the council over a 26% cut in her care package.

Ian Wise QC argued that the council’s budget failed to follow the Disability Discrimination Act requirement which states that every public authority should “promote equality of opportunity between disabled persons and others, and the need to take account of disabled persons’ disabilities”.

He also argued that a consultation over the revised social care offer was unfair because there was not enough information about the proposals for people to make an informed response.

But Mr John Howell QC, for the council, said that the framework in which the budget cuts were made was developed to safeguard and meet the needs of the most vulnerable people.

Mr Howell also said the council’s consultation was extensive, featuring two consultation documents and public meetings.