eight week specialist hospital residential assessment of a family from its area.
Family division president Elizabeth Butler-Sloss and Lord Justice Thorpe have overturned an earlier court ruling that the authority, which for legal reasons cannot be identified, need not pay for the family to receive the residential assessment - estimated at costing between£54,000 and 69,000 - at the Cassel Hospital, Richmond.
Medical experts have recommended that in view of the complex problems faced by family - the parents and three children - the unique therapeutic assessment offered at Cassel, recognised as the foremost centre for this sort of treatment, should be made available to them. The aim of the assessment is to teach the parents, who come from the south of England, parenting skills.
However, the council argued that it was unreasonable for a court to impose an obligation on a unitary authority to meet such a bill from its limited budget. It claimed it would absorb virtually all the uncommitted money in its children and family services budget.
In the court of appeal though Dame Elizabeth and Lord Jusice Thorpe ruled that the wider responsibility of the local authority had to be weighed against the benefits to the children of such an assessment.
They ruled that the authority had failed to show that a direction for residential assessment constituted disproportionate expenditure on a single family and allowed an appeal against the earlier decision that the council need not fund the assessment.
STRAND NEWS SERVICE