Monday 14 November 2011
On Friday a High Court judge ruled that the changes to Adult Social Care eligibility criteria made by Isle of Wight Council was unlawful.
The case was brought by the families of two autistic men, known only by their initials.
"JM" was described in court as being aged 32, with severe autism and a brain injury dating from birth.
He lives with his retired parents who are his full-time carers.
"NT", the second claimant, is aged 31 and has autism and a learning difficulty. He spends the week in residential accommodation, returning to his mother at the weekends.
She launched the court action, fearing the council’s new policy could potentially have a "devastating" effect on her son’s quality of life.
The judge ruled the council’s new eligibility criteria were unlawful and should be quashed by the court.
Under the plans only vulnerable adults assessed as critical or at risk of becoming critical would qualify.
Lawyers for the men said it was a "landmark judgement". Isle of Wight Council said the changes were in response to cuts in government funding.
The council said 32 people who have had already had changes made to their care are being offered a reassessment.
Until recently the council followed a policy of meeting adult social care needs as long as they were "critical" or "substantial".
However, in February the Conservative-run council resolved to cover these needs only if they involved issues of personal safety and accommodation.
It said it was trying to save £1.6m by restricting council-funded care to the most pressing cases.
In a statement, Isle of Wight Council said: "We will now need to spend time reflecting on the implications for both service users and the wider council budget before deciding on our next course of action.
"Throughout this process we tried to ensure that the methods used to consult, and the content of that consultation, would be understood by residents."
It said it would immediately comply with the judge’s decision and revert to the previous eligibility thresholds for care.
Lawyer Alex Rook said: "If a council seeks to make cuts to its budget for adult social care, it cannot do so by only meeting certain needs designed to keep someone safe, but neglecting their overall quality of life."