Last February, the High Court found that Oxfordshire County Council was not in breach of the Care Act 2014 when it cut his care package by almost a half, despite Luke highlighting that this could present risks to his mental health. Last week, an appeal was brought by Luke Davey. Supporters gathered outside the courts and closely followed all proceedings to show solidarity with Luke, and to make it clear the importance of the case to anyone who needs care and support.
Luke’s case is important because it is the first case about the wellbeing duty under the Care Act. It will set a precedent which will have an impact on our lives. That’s why we at Inclusion London intervened.
We were angry to see some things in the judgement under appeal:
– The idea that Luke will not be able to do any trips for more than 3 hours was considered by a judge as a very limited curtailment. I bet a non-disabled person would be outraged of an idea they can’t go to places they used to go.
– The fact that the judge was happy to accept social worker’s view that a break up of Luke’s support package would be a good thing, when Luke said consistently his team of PAs is very important for him. If a social worker can override disabled person’s view like that without any evidence to support their view or even a discussion with a person or a clear explanation, then choice and control does not exist at all. It is especially shocking when we talk about PAs. We all know how difficult it is to find PAs. Especially when they have to do short shifts in rural part of Oxfordshire on minimum wage.
– We also did not agree that social workers should not consider the likely impact of their decisions which can materialise in near future.
Here are some of the reasons people came:
To show solidarity and support Luke.
To make a point, so that judges can see that it is about many people, not just individual care package.
To protect the Care Act as a transformative law which is aimed at changing our experience of social care and placing us at the centre.
To make a point that independence is not being left without support, it is about us having choice and control.
Also our experience showed how inaccessible the court itself is for disabled people. We had a battle to get in, because there initially was no staff at an accessible entrance, then they had to put us in a different room, because the room where we were initially supposed to be was not big enough to accommodate several people using wheelchairs. The hearing loop wasn’t working and they only could fix it after the break. To be fair, we didn’t tell them now many disabled people were coming, but they could have predicted. Also, it shows that it is virtually impossible for a disabled person to come and listen to court proceedings, which non-disabled people could do easily.
It was a good day, because we stood up for our rights and showed that our interests and our rights should be taken seriously. We hope the judges will listen to us and reflect this in their judgement.
By Svetlana Kotova