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Debate over care ruling

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Social care experts are divided on the significance of Birmingham City Council’s High Court defeat over its reorganisation plans.

Adult services departments were expected to scrutinise Mr Justice Walker’s judgment that the authority had failed to adequately assess the impact of restricting access to care services to those with “critical needs” as part of an attempt to save £300m over four years.

However, while some commentators have suggested the case marks a watershed, Local Government Association community wellbeing board chair David Rogers (Lib Dem) was less convinced. He said the decision was essentially about “processes” followed in Birmingham, not the reorganisation.

Kari Gerstheimer, head of legal support services at charity Sense, which played a role in the Birmingham case, said she expected the city to reintroduce its proposals following a new consultation on their impact.

She said the authority “hadn’t done their due diligence” in relation to Equality Impact Assessments, and that councillors’ failures to scrutinise those shortcomings should be a warning for other authorities.

Last week Unison called on Birmingham City Council leader Mike Whitby (Con) to resign after it said Freedom of Information Act requests had revealed the authority spent £250,000 on lawyers to defend its care funding changes.

LGC understands that similar proceedings to those brought against Birmingham are a possibility for at least two other English councils.

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