Saturday, 29 August 2015

20 councils accused of a lack of consultation in test case over care cuts

Court fight to keep live-in wardens

Residents of sheltered housing developments have begun a legal fight to retain their live-in wardens.

A solicitor for tenants of around 50 schemes in more than 20 local authorities has issued papers to bring a judicial review of the decisions or proposals to remove the wardens.

Yvonne Hossack served papers on Barnet Council on 4 September. The council plans to remove live-in wardens from some schemes and replace them with visiting staff. Bradford, Hackney and Devon councils, which have all removed live-in staff from some schemes, will also be challenged as part of the test case.

Ms Hossack said: ‘The court can see what happens in practice by having cases from people who have been without a warden for longest.’
Papers against the remaining councils will be issued this week. The cases are funded by legal aid.

Ms Hossack has also asked the court to consider an application to stop Barnet from making further changes to the service until the case concludes.She is waiting for a court date for the judicial review. Her assistant Louise Kirk said they would argue that the residents expected a live-in warden when they moved in and that there was a lack of proper consultation about a change to the service.

The Essential Role of Sheltered Housing, which represents sheltered housing landlords, said restrictions under the European working time directive made it difficult to employ resident wardens, some schemes struggled to attract live-in staff and some residents did not want them. Instead it backed visiting staff based on the needs of the residents.

Meanwhile, a disciplinary case between Ms Hossack and watchdog the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal will be heard this week. Three councils against which she had brought legal cases over care cuts reported her, saying her standard of work must suffer because of the long hours she works.

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