Protecting disabled people’s right to live independently
Davey v Oxfordshire Council
A severely disabled man had his care package cut by the local council. It meant that he would lose a team of carers who had been supporting him to live independently for 20 years. We intervened to support his legal challenge that the decision broke equality and human rights laws and breached the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Impact on the right to independent living of a council’s decision to cut a care package.
A severely disabled man had his 24-hour care package cut by his local council. It meant that he would lose his established team of carers, many of whom had been supporting him to live independently for 20 years. He challenged the council’s decision, arguing that it would stop him living the life that he chooses. He accused the council of breaching the Care Act, in particular the duty to promote his physical and mental well-being.
Why we were involved
Of the UK’s 11 million disabled people, around a quarter say they frequently don’t have choice or control over their daily lives. Our goal is to ensure that people’s lives aren’t held back by the barriers they face and this case was an opportunity to establish a legal principle protecting disabled people’s right to live independently. We hoped it would not only help this man to continue living as he chooses, but in the future would give others in similar situations greater control over their lives.
What we did
We intervened in the case in the Administrative Court and Court of Appeal, which is when we provide specialist advice on the issues the court is considering. We argued that the ‘well-being’ element of the Care Act should be interpreted in line with Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – protect disabled people’s right to live independently.
The case was not successful in either Courts. The Courts found that it was not unlawful for the council to cut the man’s care package. However, the judge noted that councils should consider Article 19 of the UN Convention if there is any ambiguity about their duties under the Care Act. (Although he found there were no ambiguities in this case.)
Who will benefit and how
It is disappointing that the man’s care package was cut and he lost his established support team. However, the judge’s direction that councils should draw on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is important. It means that councils will have to consider it when making decisions that affect disabled people, which should help protect their rights. We will continue our fight to address gaps in the protection of rights for disabled people.