Public Law & Community Care, including Judicial Review

judicial review

If you are a carer, or care for someone, then this is for you. When you depend on accessing community care and services on a daily basis and you lose it, things can go badly wrong. You can be left at risk, vulnerable and alone and often unaware of your rights. Find out here what you can do, how to get help and about Judicial Reviews.

Irwin Mitchell have very kindly helped Sky Badger put these legal guides together. You can find them as well as lots of other organisations and charities specialising in legal advice at the bottom of this page.

What’s gone wrong?

Public bodies such as Local Authorities and health organisations make important decisions about the lives of vulnerable people and their access to services. Sometimes these decisions are unlawful and may need to be challenged. Sometimes the bodies delay making a decision or do not reply at all and this may also need to be challenged.

This might include some of the following things…

• Failure to carry out a community care assessment
• Failure to provide a suitable level of care following an assessment
• Withdrawal or reduction of a previous level of care
• Closure of care facilities such as day centres, respite centres, care homes or transport services
• Rights to welfare services, such as help with personal care
• Services to enable people to remain in their own homes
• Access to aids and adaptations in the home
• Direct payments and personal budgets
• Support for people on discharge from hospital, or to help safe discharge take place
• Incontinence services
• Wheelchair services
• Support to help people to access the community
• Challenges to closure of care homes and hospitals

This can also include Disputes between local authorities and NHS agencies about funding for care, including NHS continuing care.

What do I do next?

If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, you can seek assistance or advice about steps you can take to challenge the decision. You can seek advice as a disabled person, a carer or a family member of a disabled child or adult. How to challenge the decision will depend on the type of decision made and the type of public body that has made the decision – so it is important to get good quality advice. You may need to make a formal complaint, start an appeal process, or start a Judicial review claim.

What is a Judicial Review?

Judicial review is the legal process used to hold public bodies to account and to challenge unlawful decisions. There are very strict time limits for bringing a challenge so it is important to seek advice as soon as possible if you think that an unlawful decision has been made.

 

A claim should be issued in court promptly and within 3 months of the decision, and before that your solicitor would write to the decision maker to set out details of the claim and wait for a response. So, you may need to get advice and legal representation fast.

This is a complicated process that solicitors can support you with in bringing cases on behalf of vulnerable disabled people to enforce their legal rights. You usually find that most cases can be resolved before going to court once other options and routes are explored. Judicial review should only be used as a last option.

Legal Aid may be available for advice and assistance.

FIND LOADS MORE LEGAL SUPPORT, ADVOCATES & LAWYERS HERE...

Use our directory to find lots of charities and firms that can give you legal advice.

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Challenging a Refusal to Assess your Disabled Child

Challenging a refusal to assess your disabled child for specialist services

Disability Living Allowance Hearing

Has your council told you that they will not assess your disabled child so that they might have access to short breaks or any other support services or help? This is not about your child’s EHCP by the way but about all of the other help your child could get from your local council to support you and your family. Find out here about how legislation in health and social care can help you access short breaks and other help your child needs. 

Irwin Mitchell have very kindly helped Sky Badger put these legal guides together. You can find them as well as lots of other organisations and charities specialising in legal advice at the bottom of this page.

How to ask for an assessment

Is there a minimum age?

There is no minimum age for a child to be ‘in need’ and for an assessment to be required.

Does my child need a diagnosis?

There is no requirement for a formal diagnosis before there is a duty to assess.

Here are the steps to guide you through the process…

 

  1. Ask if an assessment can be carried out from their social worker or the duty worker from the Disabled Children’s Team. The request can be made on the telephone, face-to-face or in writing by letter or email. Parents can simply ask “will the council carry out an assessment of my child under section 17 of the Children Act 1989?”
  1. If the answer is ‘no’, then a version of the letter suggested below can be sent. Local Authorities only have one working day to decide what type of response is required and to acknowledge receipt, so if no response is received within a few days, it is appropriate to write the letter  and send it back to your Local Authority.
Disability Living Allowance Hobbies

A Guide to the Care Act

What happens when my disabled child becomes an adult?

The Care Act 2014 offers carers more rights and protection both for themselves and the also the disabled adult they care for too.

Click here to find out how the Care Act can help you and your family here.

What does a 'child in need' mean?

Children are ‘in need’ if they need help from the council with their health or development or if they are ‘disabled’. The term ‘disabled’ under the Children Act 1989 has a very wide meaning. It includes any mental disorder or any substantial and permanent physical disability.

It will be unlawful to refuse to assess children because they have a particular type of disability – for example ADHD or Asperger syndrome.

Legal duties upon Local Authorities

Assessments under the Children Act 1989 (and for carers under the Children and Families Act 2014) are the first part of the legal process that councils must go through in order to decide if a disabled child and / or their carers should be provided with services. The law says that councils must assess every child who is or may be a child ‘in need’ (see definition below under sources of reference).

  • Any assessment has to be carried out in accordance with the Framework for the assessment of children in need (‘the Assessment Framework’) which requires assessments to be carried out quickly and to cover all the areas of potential need that a child may have.
  • In some areas, disabled children and young people may be able to access some services without an assessment, such as clubs, however generally an assessment will be the way in which disabled children and their families access support services, short breaks, and funding via direct payments to buy these types of services.

Social Services Assessment...What happens next?

Once an assessment has been carried out the local authority must then decide whether it is necessary to provide the child with a service. Many authorities use their own ‘eligibility criteria’ to help them reach this decision, which must be published and available for families to see.

The social worker should then produce a “child in need plan” setting out what care and support is going to be provided, when, and how. The support to be provided to the carer, such as short breaks and respite, can be included in the same child in need plan.

REFUSAL TO ASSESS TEMPLATE LETTER

Click here to find a template letter from Irwin Mitchell which can be sent when a council has refused to carry out an assessment. The letter should be sent, by fax, email and post if possible, to Director of Children’s Services and also to the social worker (if parents have one) and to the Lead Member for Children’s Services (the councillor who is in charge of children’s services for the council). Click on the Link below, scroll down to the Heading Health and Social Care, below that are template letters.  Click on “Challenging a refusal to assess your Disabled Child for Specialist Services.”

What should I do next?

  • Parents should always try to resolve disputes with the local authority through discussions.
  • If an assessment has taken place and nothing has happened as a result, or parents strongly disagree with the conclusions of an assessment (which may be that the Local Authority does not need to provide services) then it will be necessary to take specialist advice.
  • If there is no response to a letter sent such as the one below requesting an assessment then again specialist advice will need to be taken.

Browse loads of other legal support here

Use our directory to find lots of organisations and charities that can give you great legal advice for you and your family.

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EHCP

Find help and guidance about the EHCP process here.

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DLA

Find your step by step guide to filling out your child's application.

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Holiday Grants

Find lots of charities giving holiday grants for you and your family.

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Education

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Find out about disability rights, educational and medical law and how to find a specialist advocate or lawyer.

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Not sure where to turn?

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Contact our helpdesk

Do you need specific help for your disabled or special needs child? Click here to tell us more about what you're looking for and our helpdesk team will do their very best to find you what you need. All of our advice is confidential and we will not share your details or personal information with anyone.

Direct payments

direct payments

If you or someone you care for get help from social services, then you can apply for direct payments. These extra payments let you choose and buy the services you need yourself, instead of getting them from your council.

So, if you use a trained babysitter or 'respite carer' to babysit or do days out with your SEN or disabled child then you might be able to get a special budget to pay for it. This budget is called a direct payment.

The Assessment

You can only get direct payments if you’ve been assessed by your social services department. The assessments are usually done at home. A disability social worker will go through your day to day activities and put together a care plan detailing what you need.

Sometimes, you can find the assessment criteria for your local social services department online. It might be a good idea to 'Google it' and have a look through the document in advance to see if you might be eligible.

During the assessment, take notes of what is being said as well as the assessors contact details and name. You could always send your notes via email after the meeting and thank them for their time. That way, everybody feels like they're working together as a team.

Who are Direct Payments for?

You might be able to get Direct payments if you are a...

  • disabled person aged 16 or over (with short or long-term needs)
  • a disabled parent for children’s services
  • carers aged 16 or over including people with parental responsibility for a disabled child.
  • elderly people who need community care services

How do I Apply for Direct Payments?

To receive direct payments, you first need to contact your local council or trust to ask them to assess your care needs. How much you get depends on your financial circumstances, and you might need to top it up with money of your own. APPLY HERE for Direct Payments.

How do direct payments work?

Direct payments go straight into your bank, post office, building society or other savings account. The council have to agree in advance what you spend your personal budget on. This can be changes as your circumstances and needs change.

You might to be able to use direct payments for...

  • short breaks
  • help to go to a youth club or other activity
  • personal care

Remember that this is all about a partnership between you and the professionals involved to make the right decisions for you as a family.

 

Direct Payments are not automatic!

Call your social services department or disability social worker to talk through you options.

Sky Badger knows that finding help is tricky, so please look through Sky Badger's website to find even more support for your whole family.

The Good News...

Direct Payments can bring you more independence and choice in how you manage care.

  • you will take control of your own care and support services.
  • you will have more choice in selecting the services and support tailored to your needs.
  • If you're confident with money and paperwork this is definitely for you, if not, you can still get support.
  • If you're great at keeping receipts and invoices and love getting  reports and paperwork to your direct payment team on time.

The Not So Good News...

This might not be for you is...

  • you don't like the idea of being an employer – that's what direct payments require you to be.
  • you’re not goos at keeping records and receipts.
  • if you or the person you're caring for you spends frequent or long periods of time in hospital.
  • if you’re happy letting your local authority provide you with care services you need.

Sky Badger can also help you with...

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Education

Find extra help at school, information about Education, Health, Care Plans (EHCP), apps & programmes, tech and IT for supporting learning and sensory activities.

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Holidays & Free time

Find holidays, sports, free cinema tickets, theatre, clubs, art, dance, music, days out, make a wish charities and more.

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Useful technology & kit

Find sensory toys, useful technology, trikes and bikes, wheelchairs & mobility.

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Finances

Find grants, governemnt benefits and help with your utility and council tax bills.

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Legal stuff

Find out about disability rights, educational and medical law and how to find a specialist advocate or lawyer.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Medical stuff

Find information about your child's medical condition, medicines that they take and mental health support.

Not sure where to turn?

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Contact our helpdesk

Do you need specific help for your disabled or special needs child? Click here to tell us more about what you're looking for and our helpdesk team will do their very best to find you what you need. All of our advice is confidential and we will not share your details or personal information with anyone.

Personal Budgets

Personal Budgets

What is a Personal Budget?

Personal budgets are an amount of money given by your Local Authority to provide support that’s been identified in your child’s Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

The personal budget is used to help your child’s individual needs and help them live more independent lives. You may be able to use it so a carer can take your child to Scouts, the cinema, out shopping, to help with personal care or to come along with you and help you while on holiday.

How do I get a Personal Budget for my Child?

Contact your Local Authority’s disability social worker team to get the ball rolling or ask to speak to someone at your LA who deals specifically with direct payments. Your local Authority will then carry out a needs assessment to get a clear picture of what your individual family needs.

Before your assessment think about...

  • What sort of help do you need?
  • How does your child’s disability/health affect them and your wholefamily?
  • What are you having trouble with at the moment?
  • How could your child have more control over their life?
  • Do your/their needs change?
  • How much help do you need and how often?
  • What do you imagine could change if you had the help?

You could ask for help to do the following...

  • Getting in or out of bed, washing, toileting, dressing
  • Playing outdoors, clubs, leisure or educational activities.
  • Shopping
  • Respite care or short breaks
  • Cooking
  • Socialising including going to events or places of worship

Top tips...

  • Find out what your local council’ s assessment criteria is before your first meeting.
  • Take notes during the assessment.
  • Ask what help your LA gives in order to manage your budget.

 Different ways to Manage your Personal Budget

Your Local Authority will give you loads of information and help about what options they offer and which way or combinations of ways you can get your direct payments.

Direct payments – your local council pays some or all of your budget into a bank account managed by you or someone else who will manage the budget for you like a broker.

An account managed by the council...indirect payments – the council will manage your budget and will sort out services on your behalf.

As an Individual Service Fund (ISF) – Your local authority pays an organization that provides support services and will follow your instructions in getting the services you need. You have a say as to how this support is provided.

Sky Badger can also help you with...

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Education

Find extra help at school, information about Education, Health, Care Plans (EHCP), apps & programmes, tech and IT for supporting learning and sensory activities.

disabled holidays uk

Holidays & Free time

Find holidays, sports, free cinema tickets, theatre, clubs, art, dance, music, days out, make a wish charities and more.

gwvmbgpp-pq-steinar-la-engeland

Useful technology & kit

Find sensory toys, useful technology, trikes and bikes, wheelchairs & mobility.

disabled grants

Finances

Find grants, governemnt benefits and help with your utility and council tax bills.

oqmzwnd3thu-helloquence

Legal stuff

Find out about disability rights, educational and medical law and how to find a specialist advocate or lawyer.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Medical stuff

Find information about your child's medical condition, medicines that they take and mental health support.

Not sure where to turn?

istock_000021104923large

Contact our helpdesk

Do you need specific help for your disabled or special needs child? Click here to tell us more about what you're looking for and our helpdesk team will do their very best to find you what you need. All of our advice is confidential and we will not share your details or personal information with anyone.

Respite and Babysitting

Respite, Babysitting, Direct Payments & Personal Budgets

respite care for children with special needs

Everyone needs a break. Finding the right babysitter can really improve the quality of your and your child’s life. Your child needs a break from you, too. Whatever your child’s needs, there is always someone out there with the skills to help.

Depending on your child’s needs, you might be able to pay for babysitting through direct payments.

Personal Budgets

The new SEN and Disability reform bill says that your Local Authority needs to prepare a personal budget with your child's care and health plan. Your child's personal budget gives you a lot more choice about the services your child uses to support them. This might include direct payments that you can use to pay your specialist babysitter or respite care provider.

 

How to find a babysitter

Your local authority disabilities team might have a list of carers that they use. Alternatively, if you receive direct payments, your contact there might have a list of preferred agencies. If you want to find one on your own, here are a few places to look.

Your school or special needs school. There may be staff (teacher/teaching assistant/nursing staff) who would like to help out.
Your local hospice. It will often have a specialised outreach team who do respite in-house as well as out and about.
Remember to vet your babysitter carefully and look into their history as much as you can. Your local authority disabilities team will be able to advise you on how to find and vet a babysitter.

You might also find this advice from Directgov on finding and choosing childcare helpful.

 

Need a longer break?

Check out our holiday zone for ideas for short breaks where your child is fully medically supported – many of these are free or low-cost. Alternatively your local hospice may have weekends you can book in advance. Hospices offer support for a whole range of conditions, so check to see if your child might be included.

A lot of local charities also do days out with carers/chaperones. This might include your local Cerebral Palsy or Mencap group. Chat to your disability social worker, school Senco or special needs school to find local groups (Sky Badger will be expanding next year to include a local search facility, so keep checking back). Primary Times also lists local disability activities.

Personal Budgets

Direct payments can be used for a variety of services that offer your child stimulation, new experiences and independence. This includes short breaks, nursery placement with specialist support for your child, assistance to attend an activity, and personal care.

lovehearts_find-me

To get help paying for a specialist babysitter for your disabled or SEN child, you should contact your local Authority's disabilities team.

They will chat to you about doing an assessment. You can gets lots of help once you've signed up. Including help for your other children, short breaks and direct payments to cover your babysitter.

Find your local disabilities team using the Sky Badger local offer directory.

Sky Badger can also help you with...

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Education

Find extra help at school, information about Education, Health, Care Plans (EHCP), apps & programmes, tech and IT for supporting learning and sensory activities.

disabled holidays uk

Holidays & Free time

Find holidays, sports, free cinema tickets, theatre, clubs, art, dance, music, days out, make a wish charities and more.

gwvmbgpp-pq-steinar-la-engeland

Useful technology & kit

Find sensory toys, useful technology, trikes and bikes, wheelchairs & mobility.

disabled grants

Finances

Find grants, governemnt benefits and help with your utility and council tax bills.

oqmzwnd3thu-helloquence

Legal stuff

Find out about disability rights, educational and medical law and how to find a specialist advocate or lawyer.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Medical stuff

Find information about your child's medical condition, medicines that they take and mental health support.

Not sure where to turn?

istock_000021104923large

Contact our helpdesk

Do you need specific help for your disabled or special needs child? Click here to tell us more about what you're looking for and our helpdesk team will do their very best to find you what you need. All of our advice is confidential and we will not share your details or personal information with anyone.

Carers Allowance

On this page you’ll find tonnes of information about Carer's Allowance. What is Carer's Allowance, How much is Carer's Allowance, find out if you're eligible and how to apply. You can also find out about Carer's Credit so your NI payments stay up to date.

Don’t forget to check out our other Sky Badger pages to find out about other benefits for disabled children as well as grants, respite care and much more.

What is Carer's Allowance?

If you spend 35 hours a week or more caring for a child who gets the middle or higher rate care component DLA then you might be eligible you Caller’s Allowance. You don’t have to be related to, or live with, the child or young person you care for but you won’t be paid extra if you care for more than one disabled child.

Contact the Carer’s Allowance Unit

Telephone: 0345 608 4321

Textphone: 0345 604 5312

Monday to Thursday, 8:30am to 5pm

Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm

carers allowance

Carers UK

More guides and information.

Turn 2 Us

More information.

Qualifying for Carer's Allowance

Your child must already get one of these benefits...

  • Personal Independence Payment - daily living component
  • Disability Living Allowance - the middle or highest care rate
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Constant Attendance Allowance at or above the normal maximum rate with an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

You might be able to get Carer’s Allowance if...

  • you’re 16 or over
  • you spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone
  • have been in England, Scotland or Wales for at least 2 of the last 3 years
  • you normally live in England, Scotland or Wales, or you live abroad as a member of the armed forces
  • you’re not in full-time education
  • you’re not studying for 21 hours a week or more
  • you earn no more than £110 a week (after taxes, care costs while you’re at work and 50% of what you pay into your pension) - don’t count your pension as income
  • you’re not subject to immigration control

You might still be eligible if you’re moving to or already living in another EEA country. The rules are different in Northern Ireland.

Effect on the benefits of the person you care for...

When you claim Carer’s Allowance, the person you care for will stop getting:

  • a severe disability premium paid with their benefits
  • an extra amount for severe disability paid with Pension Credit, if they get one
  • Reduced Council Tax - contact their local council to find out if this affects them

Effect on your benefits

When you claim Carer’s Allowance your other benefits may be reduced, but your total benefit payments will usually either go up or stay the same.

Carer’s Allowance doesn’t count towards the benefit cap.

If you get Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit, you must contact the Tax Credits office to tell them about Carer’s Allowance claim.

Use a benefits calculator to work out how your other benefits will be affected.

Carer's Allowance Rates & Entitlements

Personal Budgets

Carer's Credit

You could get Carer’s Credit if you’re caring for someone for at least 20 hours a week.

Carer’s Credit is a National Insurance credit that helps with gaps in your National Insurance record. Your State Pension is based on your National Insurance record.

Your income, savings or investments won’t affect eligibility for Carer’s Credit.

What you'll get...

If you’re eligible for Carer’s Credit, you can get credits to help fill gaps in your National Insurance record.

This means you can take on caring responsibilities without affecting your ability to qualify for the State Pension.

Eligibility

To get Carer’s Credit you must be:

  • aged 16 or over
  • under State Pension age
  • looking after one or more people for at least 20 hours a week

The person you’re looking after must get one of the following:

  • Disability Living Allowance care component at the middle or highest rate
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Constant Attendance Allowance

If the person you’re caring for doesn’t get one of these benefits, you may still be able to get Carer’s Credit. When you apply, fill in the ‘Care Certificate’ part of the application form and get a health or social care professional to sign it.

Carers who don’t qualify for Carer’s Allowance may qualify for Carer’s Credit.

Breaks in caring and eligibility

You can still get Carer’s Credit even if you have breaks from caring (up to 12 weeks in a row).

For example, you’ll still get Carer’s Credit for 12 weeks if:

  • you take a short holiday
  • someone you look after goes into hospital
  • you go into hospital

Keep the Carer’s Allowance Unit updated if you have a break in caring of more than 12 weeks in a row.

Other things Carer's Allowance allows you to apply for…

You’ll automatically get National Insurance credits. You might also be able to apply for support from your local council and a Council Tax Reduction.

See Sky Badger's Finance pages for more information on benefits, grants and much more.

Sky Badger can also help you with...

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Education

Find extra help at school, information about Education, Health, Care Plans (EHCP), apps & programmes, tech and IT for supporting learning and sensory activities.

disabled holidays uk

Holidays & Free time

Find holidays, sports, free cinema tickets, theatre, clubs, art, dance, music, days out, make a wish charities and more.

gwvmbgpp-pq-steinar-la-engeland

Useful technology & kit

Find sensory toys, useful technology, trikes and bikes, wheelchairs & mobility.

disabled grants

Finances

Find grants, governemnt benefits and help with your utility and council tax bills.

oqmzwnd3thu-helloquence

Legal stuff

Find out about disability rights, educational and medical law and how to find a specialist advocate or lawyer.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Medical stuff

Find information about your child's medical condition, medicines that they take and mental health support.

Not sure where to turn?

istock_000021104923large

Contact our helpdesk

Do you need specific help for your disabled or special needs child? Click here to tell us more about what you're looking for and our helpdesk team will do their very best to find you what you need. All of our advice is confidential and we will not share your details or personal information with anyone.