Social Welfare2019-04-16T14:29:01+01:00

Social Welfare

We regularly advise regarding services which are provided to adults and children by local authority social services departments and health departments.

Our experienced team of lawyers can advise you about your rights in relation to the duties which a local authority owe towards you or your family members and what the options and remedies are.

We can provide advice and assistance to progress formal complaints and by taking legal action through judicial review proceedings, if appropriate.

We advise parents and young people regarding services from local authorities for children in need, for example children with disabilities or those who need support from Social Services

This includes:

  • Children who are, or are faced with, the risk of being made homeless, including 16 and 17 year olds who have been asked to leave home by their parents.
  • Disabled children who require a child in need assessment and care plan.
  • Children who are looked after by local authorities (that is children who are in care or children being otherwise accommodated by the local authority who are unhappy with the services that they are receiving).
  • Young people who are, or may be, care leavers between the ages of 18 and 25 who were looked after by the local authority when they were children for more than 13 weeks and who are now owed services as care leavers and young people who think that they should fall into this group.

We act for adults with disabilities who require support at home from Social Services if they are not getting the support that they need or if they are unhappy with the support that they receive.

This includes:

  • Disabled adults who require adaptations to be made to their homes to allow them to live there.
  • Safeguarding vulnerable adults.
  • Services for carers of adults with disabilities.

We can also assist:

  • Adults who need special accommodation from Social Services because of a disability or illness or because of their age.
  • Older people who require residential care homes where there is a dispute about paying for care home fees.
  • Young adults with learning disabilities, or severe physical disabilities, if their difficulties are such that they require assistance either in residential care or in what is known as Supported Living.
  • Individuals who require advice about contributions towards nursing or care fees, personal budgets, direct payments or eligibility for NHS Continuing Healthcare.
  • People in need of asylum support, age disputed children and migrant families.

We also act for:

  • Family members or friends who care for a child due to the parents being unable to care, for whatever reason.
  • Adopters or prospective adopters

We understand the challenges that these groups of carers face.  We advise on disputes with local authorities and can assist with challenging their policies and decisions to help ensure that carers and the children in their care get the support that they are entitled to – This can be financial and other general community care support.

Decisions made by public bodies are not always just, reasonable or lawful.  Decisions, acts and omissions can be challenged by taking legal action through judicial review proceedings.

We must firstly write to the public body under a procedure call the Judicial Review Pre-Action Protocol and advise the public body that if no action is taken our next step will be to place the matter in the domain of the court.  If the response received is not satisfactory, or if we do not receive a response, then we could issue judicial review proceedings at the Administrative Court.

To do this we send to the court a bundle of papers setting out the details of our case.  One of the most important documents is a witness statement which sets out the case from the client’s point of view.

The bundle of papers that we send to the court is an application for permission or judicial review proceedings against the local authority.  The papers are considered by a Judge who will make an order deciding how the case should proceed.

Once the papers are issued at court, a copy of the bundle is served on the Defendant and they have the right to reply in a form called Acknowledgement of Service which must be filed at court within 21 days of the papers being served on the public body.

If the case is urgent we can submit the bundle to court with a request for urgent consideration which means that it is considered within a short timescale, typically 5 working days.

The judge might make a decision on the papers available in the bundle or he may order that the case be heard orally.  This means that the judge wishes to hear arguments put forward by barristers for both sides of the case.  If there is to be an oral hearing the court will advise that this is the case.

We can draft a consent order if an agreement is reached through negotiations with the public body before the court makes an order.  This is a document which sets out the terms of the settlement and is signed by both parties.  The consent order is then sent to the court to be sealed and made officially binding, resulting in the end of the case.  All such negotiations are discussed with clients before any agreement is reached.

Complaints should generally be made within 12 months of the date of the matter being complaint of or the date on which you became aware of it.

Complaints can be made using the public body’s complaints procedure.  Each has their own procedure which they follow and which normally consists of two or three stages.  If you are dissatisfied with the response received, you can request for it to be escalated to the next stage.  If you are still not satisfied after they have completed their internal procedure, the final stage is to submit a complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman or Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

Legal Aid is available for a range of civil work. To qualify for Legal Aid we will carry out an assessment of your income and capital as well as the prospects of success of your case. The Legal Aid Agency provides an online calculator which you can assess direct to determine whether you may be eligible. We will help you through the Legal Aid Application process and if you are not eligible for free legal advice, we can provide a number of other funding options including:

• Conditional Fee Agreement ( CFA)
• Fixed fee/staged payments
• Hourly rate private fee scheme

We are a national firm.  We have a team of experienced community care lawyers.  The firm also specialises in many other areas which are often linked to or overlap with community care issues, such as Housing and Court of Protection.  We are therefore able to provide a professional, understanding and holistic approach which has proved to be of great benefit to our clients.

Visit our Meet the Team page to find out more about the team.

You can contact us by using our online contact form or by email or telephone.

We may ask you to complete a New Client Enquiry Form so that you can provide a summary of the issues.

We can then advise you what further information or documents we may require, confirm what assistance we can provide and explain your funding options.

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GT Stewart has established itself as a leading firm in the UK for criminal, housing, mental health and family law, specialising in private cases and also Legal Aid work.

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We are known for our tenacity when representing those engaged in challenging the State or defending themselves against a prosecution.