Local grandparents take on Barnsley City Council and win leave to appeal to the High Court
This case involves a child who should have been looked after by Barnsley Council but the child and the grandparents were badly let down by them.
The local authority made arrangements for the child to move in with the grandparents because the parents were unable to look after the child. The grandparents have struggled financially to pay for basic necessities for the child such as school uniforms. The grandparents want the local authority to make sure that the child is ‘cared about’ as well as ‘cared for’ and that they get the right sort of help to do well in their lives. They feel that an important part of this is to secure education and health care plans to help the child to come to terms with what has happened and to assist them to look to the future.
Proceedings were issued at the High Court in June 2011 to judicially review Barnsley City Council’s decision not to put in place crucial education and health plans, plus financial support to the grandparents care for the child. Leave to appeal to the High Court has been granted. This means that the High Court takes this case seriously. The child’s long-term future would be secured if these plans were put in place.
‘We are thankful to Ridley & Hall for fighting our case and bringing us this far. This is a fight for the children we care for and for all the other children who may face this situation. All across the country relatives have to step in and care for children let down by the system. These children are already damaged children and to be let down by the system in this way is unacceptable. Social services should meet their legal responsibilities.’
Ridley & Hall has been assisting the family in their fight against Barnsley City Council. Susan Cawtherley of Ridley & Hall represented the children and their carers. The carers cannot be identified for legal reasons, but they are pleased that a judicial review has been secured.
The families feel that this support should have been in place from the start and not put them in a position where they were forced to take legal action in the High Court.
The Children Act places a responsibility upon local authorities to step in and care for children who can not be adequately cared for by their parents or those with parental responsibility. Often local authorities will side step this obligation by claiming that a ‘private arrangement’ has been agreed between the carer and the child, thereby avoiding long-term responsibility, including financial responsibility. This inevitably places a financial burden upon carers, who are not always family members, and ultimately it is detrimental for the children who have already faced considerable difficulty and upheaval.
Susan Cawtherley commented ‘This case concerns Barnsley City Council but it is happening all over the country and is not limited to particular local authorities. Damaged children need to know that the authorities are there for them in times of crisis and not, as has happened here, feel that they are instead trying to wash their hands of responsibility due to what comes down to monetary pressure from councils’ budgets. This financial support is vital for the wellbeing of the child where often the grandparents are on state pensions.‘
Ridley & Hall Solicitors, Queens House, 35 Market Street, Huddersfield, HD1 2HL
www.ridleyandhall.co.uk Susan Cawtherley – contact number 01484 538 421