Home > Cases > B, R (on the application of) v Cornwall County Council & Anor [2009] EWHC 491 (Admin)

DATE: 16 Mar 2009

B suffered from a learning disability. Since 1993, he had lived in supported living accommodation (C) with three others with learning disabilities. The Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust was the provider of care for the residents of C until January 2008 at which point the defendant local authority took over, exercising its care responsibilities through the interested party trust. B’s parents regularly visited C to check upon B’s welfare. B was also given assistance by a ‘senior support worker’. In May 2008, the authority informed B that he would not have to make any contribution towards the costs of his care at C. B’s ‘disability-related expenditure’ (DRE) was said to have been taken into account (see [32] of the judgment for the relevant DRE figures). Following a review of B’s care needs assessments, the authority, in August, advised B that it had reassessed his liability to contribute and, after a transitional period during which he would have to pay nothing until October 2008 and only £30 thereafter until October 2009, he would be charged £68.50 per week by way of a contribution (see [41]-[44] of the judgment). B applied for judicial review of the August decision on three grounds, namely: (i) that the August decision constituted a breach of his substantive legitimate expectation, which he had held from May 2008, that he would not be charged in respect of his care costs; (ii) that there had been a failure to assess his care needs; and (iii) that the authority had failed to properly construe and follow the relevant guidance (see [8]-[14] of the judgment).

The application would be allowed. The Defendant had failed to engage with Mr and Mrs B as it ought to have done, and as the relevant guidance in particular had required it to have done. Second, there was no doubt that the authority’s approach to its decision in August 2008 was, at least in part, defective. Third, the authority’s approach to B’s care plans, in context, was not lawful. The authority appeared to have had abrogated its obligation to assess B’s needs in failing to make an appropriate assessment itself. Fifth, and finally, even looking at the care plan documents alone – i.e. without the benefit of any input from Mr and Mrs B or B’s senior support worker – it could not be said that there was no evidence to support the relevant heads of expenditure as DRE.

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