The Queen (on the application of P) v London Borough of Newham [2004] EWHC 2210 Admin

The Claimant (P) was a severely disabled young person with cerebral palsy, doubly incontinent, no speech and needing help with all aspects of care.  P was approaching his 18th birthday and was living at a children’s centre.  P’s grandmother and MENCAP advocate sought information about the defendant council’s (LBN) assessment of P’s future needs.  LBN were unable to provide the correct documents including a pathway plan  as required by statute (although they stated some documents had been prepared) and in fact argued that their own procedures were more satisfactory than those for which statute provided.

Schedule 2 of the Children’s Act 1989 [para19B(4)] requires the local authority to carry out an assessment of an eligible child’s needs  with a view to determining what advice, assistance and support is appropriate whilst the child is being looked after by them, when they cease to look after him in order to provide a pathway plan for his future.  A local authority is also required to prepare a written statement describing the manner in which the child’s needs will be assessed.  The assessment is to be completed not more than 3 months after the date on which he reaches the age of 16.  The assessment must then be followed by a pathway plan and provide for a review of that plan at not more than 6 monthly intervals (The Children (Leaving Care) (England) Regulations 2001).

LBN acknowledged in this case that they had not met the statutory requirements nor had they explained what documents had been prepared and why they preferred their own procedures in preference to those provided for by statute. They were of the opinion that the statutory provisions were not appropriate in P’s case due to his complex disabilities and that they had implemented an alternative ‘transitional’ plan.  This meant that P would remain in the children’s centre until he was 19 when his education would cease and he would then be transferred to adult services.

P was therefore granted the order sought, that LBN had not complied with its statutory obligations.  The court also ordered that a new statutory assessment be made including a satisfactory pathway plan.  The case was adjourned pending compliance of LBN and for consideration of human rights issues and damages.

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