Local government should brace itself for a raft of legal actions relating to budget cuts, lawyers warned this week, following London Councils appearing in the High Court over plans to decrease its charities budget.
Bevan Brittan local government partner Peter Keith-Lucas said he expected more councils to face action and warned costs would mount up in legal fees and also because of delays to cuts or service reforms.
Mr Keith Lucas said: “We are virtually incapable of rationing public services except through the courts and tribunals. It is likely that [like the London Councils case] we will see a lot of challenges based on the process by which decisions were taken rather than the decision themselves. Damages will be caused as much by delays to projects as legal costs.”
Birmingham City Council director of corporate governance Mirza Ahmad added that it was inevitable that there would be “legal tensions in the current climate”.
The comments follow London Councils being dragged to the High Court and Nottingham City Council facing the threat of fresh legal action in the last week both as a result of budget cuts.
A High Court judge ruled on Friday London Councils had failed to consider its statutory equalities duty when cutting £10m from its £26.4m voluntary funding programme and order the body to re-run its consultation process for the 200 plus projects affected.
Meanwhile, Nottingham faces legal action from housing association Framework, which claims cuts to the Supporting People grant are “unfair and unlawful”.