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It's best to get some help as soon as possible. Local disability advice or advocacy services may:
Be ready to phone around for help. Some advice and support services may not have the right expertise. Others may have too many people to help already. Much will depend on where you live and what services are nearby.
For many people, money is the decisive factor when choosing options. Taking this kind of case to court can be very expensive. In a small number of cases the court may order you to pay the local authority’s legal costs if you lose.
So the first thing to do is to work out if you can get legal aid. This is the scheme where the government pays most or all of your legal costs for you. They will also pay the local authority’s costs if you lose. People are only eligible for legal aid if they have a low income and very few savings.
You need to be eligible for ‘Legal help’ to get free initial advice on what to do. A solicitor can also write a ‘letter before claim’ to your council. This is sometimes enough to get your local authority to provide the service you need.
If you are eligible for legal aid, it would be sensible to see a solicitor. They will tell you whether or not you have a good case. They can also help you decide whether to take the local authority to court or complain to the Ombudsman.
If you are not eligible for legal aid it is harder to know what to do. Some people pay for advice, but this may not be realistic for many people who have a problem with their support package. The best thing if you cannot afford legal advice is to get advice from one of the organisations listed in further help.
Some people pay for a solicitor to threaten the local authority with court proceedings. This is because it sometimes results in the local authority backing down. If you are very lucky, you may be able to find a solicitor who will do this for you for free. Others may agree to do it for a set fee. If you want to take this route, see how to find a solicitor.
Whatever you decide to do, do it as soon as possible. It will be easier for the local authority to change its decision if not much time has gone by. Also there is a 3-month limit for taking cases like this to court, and in many cases courts will expect people to act much quicker than that and may dismiss the case for being too late even if it is within the 3 months. In very rare cases the court may extend this time limit, but only where it wasn’t possible to take action sooner.
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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