High Court ruling 'will affect council cuts to all disabled charities'

Royal London Society for the Blind says Birmingham City Council case makes reductions in cuts elsewhere 'almost inevitable'

High Court
High Court

Disability charities might receive better than expected grants from local authorities after a ruling by the High Court that the process used to make cuts to disabled people's services by Birmingham City Council was unlawful, according to a charity for blind people.

The Royal London Society for the Blind said councils should ensure that any cuts they made were lawful following a decision by the High Court last week that Birmingham City Council had breached the Disability Discrimination Act by proposing to limit council-funded social care to those deemed to be in critical need.

Birmingham's proposed cuts were part of reductions totalling £212m across all sectors. According to the RLSB, £51m of the reductions affected disabled people's services.

A spokesman for the RLSB said it was "almost inevitable" that the High Court ruling would mean many other councils would have to reduce the cuts they were making to disabled people's services.

"All councils will have to revisit their plans to ensure that they are complying with the court judgement," he said. "We think many councils will not be in compliance and will have to make sure that they conform with the Disability Discrimination Act.

"This is likely to mean that disability charities receive more generous grant settlements than they had previously been promised from local councils."

A statement from Birmingham City Council confirmed it would re-run its consultation on the cuts "consistent with the need to analyse the potential impact on disabled people and our compliance with the equality principles set out in law".

A spokesman for the Local Government Association said there was no reason to believe there would be a "flood of cases" against other councils because the Birmingham case related to a "technicality rather than a moral judgement on cuts".

A spokesman for London Councils, which represents the 33 local authorities in the capital, said: "Councils in London will have carefully studied the Birmingham City Council judgement.

"In setting social care budgets, local authorities have to balance the competing needs of their population alongside significant cuts to their funding. This is a difficult task, and councils will have carefully considered their responsibilities to all their residents before making any final decision."

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