Manchester adult care cuts ruling ‘disappointing’

A disability rights campaigner has said the ruling that Manchester’s cuts to adult care were legal was “disappointing”.

A review at Manchester Civil Justice Centre found the city council’s consultation on savings in the area of adult services to be “not unlawful”.

Disability Equality North West’s chief executive Melanie Close said it did not mean “making such cuts was right”.

Department director Liz Bruce said the council was “relieved” at the result.

Manchester City Council is looking to save nearly £39m from its annual £166m social care budget over two years and support for adults could be reduced by £8m.

Cuts will include reducing cash support for 59 voluntary groups, around £900,000 being taken from the budget for people with learning disabilities, and more than £800,000 dropped from elderly provision.

The judicial review, which was held on Monday and Tuesday, examined a claim against the council by two disabled and elderly applicants that the changes did not follow the government’s disability guidelines and the council consultation was unfair.

Mr Justice Ryder dismissed the claim but did not reveal the reasons for his judgement, although a written ruling is expected in the next few weeks.

Ms Close said that the cuts would have “a massive impact on disabled people’s right to independent living”.

“What will happen is, with less social care support, people will become more isolated and we think there will be a long term impact,” she said.

She said it was “disappointing that the judge found in favour of Manchester City Council”.

“The judge hasn’t given the grounds [for his decision], so we need to wait for that and then decide whether to put an appeal in.”

Ms Bruce said that with “very significant budget cuts to make right across the council, it had been very challenging to decide what cuts to make”.

“What we have tried to do is invest in positive interventions and then try and make savings in back office and management,” she said.

“It’s about streamlining services so that they are more co-ordinated.

“Nobody will lose their service and nothing will be taken away from a customer until alternatives are put in place.”

She said while the council recognised the right for people to challenge decisions, the judicial review had been expensive for the organisation.

“When you weigh up what the claimants’ application was, I would say we could have spent our time and money in a better way,” she said.