Berkshire

West Berkshire Council faces High Court challenge over social care cuts

Five people with learning difficulties have mounted a legal challenge in the High Court against West Berkshire Council over its social care cuts.

They are challenging the council's policy to only fund care for those deemed to be in critical need.

Lawyers for the five complainants say this means "potentially thousands of vulnerable adults miss out on necessary care and support".

West Berkshire Council said it could not comment while the case was ongoing.

Mencap support

According to law firm Irwin Mitchell, West Berkshire Council is one of only three councils out of 152 in England - alongside Wokingham and Northumberland - to currently operate a critical care only policy.

There are four categories - low, moderate, substantial and critical.

Critical care criteria includes if a patient's life is threatened, significant health problems have developed or serious abuse or neglect has occurred.

The five complainants, who cannot be named for legal reasons, have a range of learning difficulties including autism and some of them need round the clock support.

The legal challenge is supported by mental health charity Mencap.

Chief executive Mark Goldring said people with learning difficulties had lost "vital care and support" because of council cutbacks.

He added: "The impact of these changes has been highly detrimental, as, without this support, people with a learning disability face a real struggle to live full, independent and safe lives, and an ever greater strain is placed on family carers."

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