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Devon County Council halts proposals to cut learning disability services following pre-action letter before claim

In February 2023, Devon County Council launched a consultation on proposals to shut day service and overnight respite for disabled adults, to help cut £30 million from its adult care budget.

On behalf of Exeter & District Mencap, Rook Irwin Sweeney sent a letter before claim arguing that the proposals were unlawful and called for a halt to the plans. Exeter & District Mencap argued that the plans, and the consultation being conducted by the Council, were not lawful and failed to comply with the public sector equality duty, which requires the Council to consider the needs of disabled people.

In April, the Council agreed to halt the proposals.

Bob Gaiger, Trustee of Exeter and District Mencap Society said:

“We welcome the decision by Devon County Council to call a halt to the consultations and hope that their review of the comments and representations so far lead them to cancel their distressing proposals for adult day and respite services. We value our working relationship with the council but would like to emphasise that we are ready to proceed to Judicial Review if the need arises.”

Anne-Marie Irwin of  Rook Irwin Sweeney, solicitor for Exeter Mencap, commented:

“On behalf of Exeter and District Mencap Society, we argued that the Council had failed to comply with its legal duties to consult fairly, and to have regard to the needs of disabled people when formulating these proposals, which would have had a significantly detrimental impact on many disabled people in Devon. Our clients hope that legal action will not be necessary, but we continue to advise Exeter and District Mencap and will monitor the actions of the Council in the coming months.”

April 2023

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