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Your local authority is likely to propose a reassessment, a meeting or some other step for you to go through at this point. It’s easy to get disheartened by this. You may feel you’ve already explained your situation – several times! You may be on the verge of losing patience with the whole thing. You may be tempted to refuse to co-operate with a reassessment. Keep going.
Why are we encouraging you to keep going? To stick at it, to make the same points over and over again? Because in practice, most successful outcomes happen through a good reassessment following a complaint. And even if the complaints process doesn’t resolve things fully and you have to go to the Ombudsman or to court, it will be easier to succeed in the end if you have co-operated at every stage of the complaints process.
You could ask the Ombudsman to decide if the local authority has behaved lawfully and treated you fairly. If your council has a second stage to their complaints process you may have to follow that first. The Ombudsman may agree to deal with it straight away in some circumstances. For example, if your complaint is very urgent. Or you have tried complaining to your local authority but made no progress.
You could seek legal advice about asking the High Court to decide whether what the local authority has done is lawful - or threaten to, which is often all it takes. This type of court process is called judicial review.
Both are good options but suit some situations better than others.
If you have had no luck making a complaint to your council, you can ask the Local Government Ombudsman - call 0300 061 0614 to investigate. They will decide if they think the local authority has acted fairly. The Ombudsman is independent of the Government.
Try to get help from one of the organisations listed in further help on how to complain to the Ombudsman. If you can’t, don’t worry – the process is straightforward, and the Ombudsman has a lot of helpful information available on their website or by telephone. The Ombudsman can sometimes advise you on what you can do about a complaint before you go all the way through the local authority’s procedure. If you want them to do this, it is best to phone the Ombudsman’s office before you write to them.
It is best to prepare for important phone calls like this. Make a list of everything you want to cover during the conversation. Tick them off as you go through.
You may be able to ask the High Court to decide if what the local authority has done is lawful. This is called ‘judicial review’. You need a solicitor to help you do this. There are some solicitors who specialise in helping disabled people and their families get the right help from care and support services. It is really important to use a solicitor who has a lot of experience in this area of law. So when you phone a firm of solicitors make sure you ask if they are specialists in community care law. You can use the legal adviser finder to find a solicitor who specialises in community care and takes cases from your area. See the Ministry of Justice's Legal Adviser Finder:
They will work out if you have a good case and advise you on the best route to take. They will know about the areas of the law that are relevant and whether they support your case.
Together you may decide it is a good idea to go to court. If so, they may write a letter asking the local authority to change their decision. Usually they ask the local authority to respond within 14 days. But if it is really urgent they might be given seven days or even less. This may result in the local authority making a new agreement with you. If they don’t reply or don’t agree to change their plans, then your solicitor may begin the business of taking them to court. If you get legal aid, you will generally pay either nothing or an affordable amount even if you lose. Your solicitor will be able to explain in more detail what sum you might be asked to pay.
This guide was updated for Scope by Advicenow in March 2015. It applies to England only.
It is not meant as a substitute for legal advice.
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