Childcare for needy Lambeth families may have been wrongly refused, claims lawyer
Parents may have been wrongly refused childcare from the council after a court ruled it should not have cancelled support for the mentally ill mother of two autistic children, a lawyer believes.
The woman, who did not want to be named, took her case to the High Court last week, where she lodged a judicial review challenge against Lambeth Council’s decision to refuse her request for childcare assistance.
Solicitor Dan Rosenberg, who acted on the woman’s behalf, argued the council’s criteria for ‘children in need’ had been wrongly applied to her case and said his client’s care payment package was consequently cut from 37 hours a week to zero.
He said because of his client’s specific health needs she “could not cope” without funding to pay for a support worker.
The council subsequently agreed to scrap the criteria which had been applied to the case and undertake a 12-week consultation before new guidelines were introduced.
The woman’s care payments have since been reinstated and Mr Rosenberg hopes they will remain permanent once she is assessed according to a new criteria.
He said: “We challenged the decision and it transpired in the course of the case the mother had a health issue and she could not cope without those care payments.
“As a result of the case [the council] has accepted the assessment does not stand and they have withdrawn their eligibility criteria for children in need.
“Under the terms of this settlement, the family's care services package which they sorely need will continue.”
He added the case could have implications for other parents who had faced difficulty accessing support from the council, and for other boroughs which have enforced similar policies.
He said: “If there are any other families in Lambeth who have been refused care recently they might like to go back to the council and challenge the decision.”
In a statement, Doughty Street Chambers, which represented the woman’s case in court, said: “This is an important result for vulnerable children in Lambeth, and it may have wider ramifications for other local authorities.”
It added the family had achieved “all the relief they sought to deal with their situation”.
A council spokesman said it had suspended its eligibility criteria with consent from all parties to enable a review.