High Court ruling 'boosts Compact'

Compact experts said they were encouraged by a ruling on the subject in the High Court last week even though it went against the voluntary sector.

A service user of Age Concern South Lakeland claimed Cumbria County Council's decision to introduce charges for day care services was unlawful because the authority had not made a consultation period long enough to comply with the Compact.

The judge ruled that the council had carried out adequate consultation, despite failing to do so initially, and found in its favour.

But Compact experts have claimed that the sector can find comfort in the case, during which the judge said the Compact was "more than a wish list; it is a commitment of intent".

Louise Whitfield, project solicitor at legal charity the Public Law Project, which brought the case on behalf of the service user, said the comments would be helpful for future cases.

"Although it does not set a lawful precedent, it is a good indication of how a High Court judge thinks," she said.

A spokesman for the Commission for the Compact said the organisation was "pleased that the judgement recognised the importance of proper consultation, as set out in the Compact".

Jess Crocker, Compact advocate at sector representative body Compact Voice, said: "We are encouraged by the positive comments made by the judge."

A spokesman for Cumbria County Council said it welcomed the judgement. He added: "Most of the county's third sector did not support the decision to force the issue of day care charging to judicial review."

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