Pensioners fight against care withdrawal

Roger Pearson looks ahead

The High Court is set for a major test case early next year which will have wide-ranging implications for hard up local authorities.

Two Gloucester pensioners are fighting to show that county councils are not entitled to cut off home care services purely because the councils are short of money.

They are challenging the right of Gloucester County Council to cut off their home care on the basis that the local authority can no longer afford to fund it.

The pensioners, Wesley Mahfood, 75, and Michael Barry, 79, claim that the council was acting unlawfully in taking the action it did.

They say that cutting off their care was in breach of the council's duties under the 1990 Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act and that the Act only allows for community services to be withdrawn when there is no continuing need for them.

Both men argue that they still need support. Mr Mahfood suffered spinal injuries and a stroke and was assessed as being in need of support in February 1993.

In September 1992, Mr Barry suffered a broken hip, had to have a replacement and was subsequently assessed as needing home support.

However, the council wrote to both men in September this year and told them that the home care services they had been receiving would be stopped because of lack of money and a reduction in the funding allocation to the council for such services.

The whole matter has now been put on hold by agreement with Gloucester County Council. The council has agreed to continue providing home support and care services to the two pensioners pending the outcome of their judicial review application.

When the men's application for leave to seek judicial review came before Mr Justice Latham recently he ruled that the application should be dealt with quickly and be listed for hearing as soon as possible after 1 February next year.