Support from your local authority
Modifications to the special education needs law and social care duties may have you concerned that your child or young person won’t receive the level of support they need.
It is really important you contact your local authority asking for support and work with them to find solutions during this unprecedented time.
If someone asks for social care support, the local authority will not be able to refuse you assess outright. We think this would be challengeable. A local authority cannot make a decision to refuse a request to social care support without first understanding what the needs are. We believe the authority would need to consider the background to the request or carry out some form of assessment.
With new social care easements, we acknowledge there is a risk that fewer care assessments will be carried out for autistic young people and their carers. We recommend that anyone needing extra support, makes a case to their local authority as to why they need it, and explain the implications of not receiving the support very clearly.
Where a local authority refuses to meet an individual or their carer’s need, you can ask the local authority for the reasoning behind that decision. It is important to ensure that consideration has been given to whether the refusal to provide social care support is a breach of an individual’s human rights.
Complaints to your local authority
The Coronavirus Act has granted the Government a range of emergency powers. However, if you have concerns that a local authority or health body is failing to provide what they are legally required to, you can raise a complaint.
This has not been changed at all by the coronavirus pandemic.
If you believe your local authority or health body is causing significant delay or failing to comply with the law, you initially raise a complaint using that body’s internal complaints mechanism.
Usually, if you wish to escalate the issue you can report a complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. But unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus pandemic the Ombudsman, are no longer accepting new complaints. Ordinarily, the Ombudsman investigates complaints where a local authority is alleged to have made a mistake leading to injustice. Although not currently investigating new complaints, the ombudsman is still publishing the outcome of their investigations into past complaints.
Without oversight by the Ombudsman, the only other remedy for a family or young person could be a judicial review. This is a process whereby a court will review how the decision of the local authority or health body is made. If the decision was not lawful, fair or reasonable, then the court could ask the local authority or health body to take remedial action. To seek a judicial review it would be necessary to seek the advice of a solicitor. Some families and young people are eligible for legal aid to help with the costs.
You can find more information on IPSEA about challenging a decision or making a complaint.