A legal challenge has been brought against West Berkshire Council on behalf of five disabled people to challenge the restriction on adult social care to meeting people’s ‘critical’ care needs.
The challenge will work as a test case and, if successful, could lead to thousands more elderly and disabled people gaining access to care.
The concept of thresholds is outlined in the Fair Access to Care Services guidance, which came into force in 2003. This establishes a four-band eligibility framework for adult social care which categorises peoples care needs as either critical, substantial, moderate or low. The legal challenge focuses on the legality of setting a critical threshold itself.
Council’s with critical thresholds exclude the provision of formal care and support for people with ‘substantial’ needs which includes an inability to carry out the majority of personal care tasks, or to undertake the majority of family or social roles and responsibilities, or suffering or being at risk of abuse or neglect (unless it is deemed ‘serious’ enough to fall under the ‘critical’ threshold).
The application of the ‘critical’ threshold potentially excludes thousands of severely disabled people across the country from receiving care funding which could leave them vulnerable to harm and isolated from their local communities.
The High Court is considering over the next two weeks whether it will hear the challenge.