Will the courts protect against the cuts?

February 1, 2011

On Friday, a High Court judge squashed a decision by London Councils to cut £10m from its £26.4m grants scheme to voluntary organisations in the capital

Service users of two of the organisations affected by London Councils’ proposed cuts brought judicial review proceedings against them.

Louise Whitfield, a solicitor at law firm Pierce Glynn who acted for the claimants, said:

This case establishes that even in the current economic climate, it remains of paramount importance that public sector funding cut decisions are properly assessed for their gender, disability and race equality impacts. If they are not, public sector funding cut decisions will be unlawful.

You can read more about the ruling at the Local Government Lawyer website

Patrick Butler, in the Guardian today, questions if the court decision merely provides some respite but not a reprieve for charities against cuts.

..it is not the decision to cut the London boroughs grants scheme that was illegal, but the process of reaching that decision. Whitfield says that in her experience, authorities which are forced to re-examine decisions in this way often come back with less onerous proposals. But the Labour-led, Tory-supported London Councils has already scaled down its cuts package once, from 80% to 63%.

He asks if the other providers of services will go down the legal route but warns that –

….the window of opportunity is not open for much longer: councils will set legal budgets later this month, and the courts may be reluctant to retrospectively unpick those decisions. A charity which has not set a legal challenge in train already may have run out of time.

Read the rest at his article at The Guardian

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