Legal threat wins extra time for social care contracts in Swindon

Council and NHS contracts with Swindon Mind, Swindon Carers Centre and other charities have been extended until March next year after judicial review move is proposed

Swindon Borough Council
Swindon Borough Council

Charities in Swindon have won extensions to health and social care contracts after service users threatened the local authority and NHS trust with legal action.

Staff at Swindon Mind, the Swindon Carers Centre and other charities faced the prospect of widespread job losses when their contracts with Swindon Borough Council and NHS Swindon expired at the end of March this year.

Specialist judicial review solicitors Pierce Glynn, acting on behalf of a group of service users, accused the council and the NHS trust of failing to consult residents and organisations on changes to funding arrangements, and of failing to carry out assessments of the impacts of their proposals.

A new tendering process for the contracts, worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, was due to take effect this financial year.

Swindon Borough Council and NHS Swindon agreed to put the funding changes on hold after Pierce Glynn prepared to launch a judicial review. It extended the previous funding arrangements until September this year and has now agreed to a further six-month extension until March 2012.

Adam Hundt, a solicitor at Pierce Glynn, said: "We managed to secure enough concessions to keep Mind and the Carers Centre running, but it was a period of incredible uncertainty. Some workers worried about losing their jobs and one organisation, the Independent Living Centre in Swindon, folded.

"This was a knee-jerk reaction to cuts in local government budgets imposed by central government. Charities in other parts of the sector could take a similar course of action in response to councils and NHS trusts attempting to withdraw funding without proper consultation."

Nobody at the council or NHS Swindon was available for comment.

Daniel Lombard recommends

Swindon Mind

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