National Deaf Children's Society secures 'landmark' decision for deaf children

After a legal challenge, Stoke-on-Trent City Council has agreed to reconsider its decision to cut support services for deaf children

National Deaf Children's Society
National Deaf Children's Society

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has said it will reconsider its decision to make cuts to its support services for deaf children after a legal challenge from the National Deaf Children’s Society.

The charity went to the High Court on 22 August to request a judicial review of the council’s refusal to reconsider its decision to make cuts to services for deaf children.

An NDCS spokeswoman said the local authority had reduced the budget for its integration services directorate, which includes the team that supports deaf children, from £5.004m in 2010/11 to £3.447m in 2011/12 – a reduction of 32 per cent.

Councillor Debra Gratton, cabinet member for children’s services, said last week that the council had listened to the arguments made by the NDCS and to parents, teachers and children.

"In light of this, it has been agreed that the original decisions be reviewed, following proper and meaningful consultation, to help us to continue to provide the best level of services for city children," she said.

"The council is also mindful that the legal challenge could prove costly; this is taxpayers’ money that could much more productively be spent delivering public services than being eaten up in the law courts."

Brian Gale, NDCS director of policy and campaigns, said this was landmark decision for deaf children.

"NDCS used legal action as a last resort because the council ignored the concerns of parents for almost a year," he said. "It should not be necessary to take legal action to ensure the voices of parents are heard. We are pleased that the council is now willing to work alongside NDCS and parents in Stoke to ensure that deaf children reach their full potential."

The charity announced last month that it was planning to seek a judicial review against the council. It had been asking the council to review its budget for deaf services since November, but the authority had refused.

A decision on whether or not to grant a judicial review of the savings had been due on Monday. The NDCS spokeswoman said this would not now be taken forward. 

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