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How to challenge a decision

Alex Rook, a public law expert and CBF Trustee Advisor, explains what you need to know about challenging decisions under the Care Act…

 

The Care Act 2014 sets out the rules that Local Authorities (“LAs”) must follow when assessing a disabled adult or their carer, and when to provide them with care and support.

However, what should you do if you are not happy with a decision made by the LA, or if you are not satisfied with the assessment or care plan you have received?

A decision or assessment can be challenged both informally and formally. The following options can be used independently or in conjunction with each other.

 

  • Step 1. Speak to the social worker setting out clearly why you are unhappy with an LA's decision. It is possible that the decision will be reconsidered.
  • Step 2. Make a formal written complaint to the LA. LAs have a legal obligation to consider your complaint, and they will have a complaints procedure set out on their website. Complaints are usually dealt with by a complaints officer who has no direct connection to social services, although they will still be an employee of the LA. A complaints officer must consider appropriately your grounds for complaint. The response will be provided in writing.
  • Step 3. If you are still unhappy with a Local Authority's response to your complaint, you can make a further written complaint to The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO). The LGO is a government body that is set up to review decisions made by LAs. The Ombudsman has legal powers to recommend that an LA should review and change its decision. Making a complaint to the LGO is free to do. 
  • Step 4. The lawfulness of an LA's decision can be challenged in court. This process is called Judicial Review. It is important that you take legal advice from a lawyer who specialises in such cases as they can be complex. It is also important that you take such legal advice as soon as possible, even if you are making a complaint to an LA or to the Ombudsman. Act promptly, and in any event in no more than 3 months, because there is a short deadline to issue a claim at court. Most lawyers will provide some free initial advice and Legal Aid may be available to bring such a case, if you are financially eligible.

 

Further information about the Care Act 2014, including template letters and factsheets to help you challenge decisions can be found online.

 

This article is from the 2016 Summer edition of 'Challenge', the Newsletter of the CBF. You can download a pdf copy of the newsletter, or read it online.

 

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