This case is one of the first to consider the legality of personal budgets to meet adult social care needs. In particular this case focused on the obligations placed on local authorities under the current adult community care legislation and whether the particular resource allocation scheme adopted was capable of meeting these obligations.
She challenged this decision on three grounds; namely:
In respect of the first challenge the Court considered the obligations set out in the current legal framework and in particular the duty to assess (as contained in s.47 NHSCCA) and the duty to arrange appropriate provision if the result of the assessment requires community care services to be provided. Provision of services would be under the relevant community care provision, in this case s2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 [‘CSDPA’]. A local authority is able to discharge this duty by offering direct payments. However, regulation 14(1) of the Community Care, Services for Carers and Children’s Services (Direct Payments) (England) Regulations 2009 makes clear that the provision of a direct payment does not affect the local authority’s obligation to carry out its functions under the relevant enactment to which the payment relates, unless it is satisfied that needs which call for provision under the enactment will be secured by the payment; thereby requiring not only that the sum provided is sufficient to purchase the necessary care, but also that it is that care that is purchased with the direct payment.
On the second ground, the parties accepted that there was no statutory duty to give reasons for how it had calculated the personal budget; however the judge pointed out that the whole policy was founded on the principle of ‘Putting People First’. This document, and the guidance issued by the ADASS, demonstrated a clear policy to provide service users with transparent information about how personal budgets were arrived at, South Buckinghamshire DC v Porter (No2) (2004) applied. The Judge referred to the cases of R v Gloucestershire CC Ex p RADAR (1997-98) , R v Islington LBC Ex p Rixon (1997) and Eisai Ltd v National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) (2008) as legal authority for finding a common law duty (required by procedural fairness) on local authorities to provide evidenced based reasons as to how and why it believes it has arrived at the RAS figure, so as that it could demonstrate it was discharging its statutory duties. He did not accept that requiring local authorities to do so, prior to the completion of the support plan, would be unduly burdensome on authorities, stating that “personal budgets are new and in many ways represent a fundamental shift in community care. It must be incumbent on those responsible for this provision, to be transparent, and to explain individual decisions in a precise and clear manner.”
On the final ground put forward, the Judge commented that there had been no evidence put before him that could show this was a decision that no reasonable Panel could have arrived at, but as “this is really a reformulation of the reasons challenge. I have decided that challenge in the Claimant’s favour” based not on irrationality, but on the lack of reasons given.
Finally on whether personal budgets (through the provision of direct payment) could engage article 6 the Judge concluded that they did not. Quoting the recent case of Tomlinson and others (FC) v Birmingham City Council  he likened the creation of a personal budget, and the manner in which a personal budget is utilized, as within social welfare provision. The dependence on discretionary judgments, not only to establish entitlement but also to discharge the state’s obligation and the way in which this obligation can be met, meant that personal budget, like the provision of accommodation under the Housing Act 1996 was essentially a public nature duty which does not give rise to an individual economic right, so any dispute concerning the question whether the applicant has been properly notified of the decision making process is not within Article 6.