(Family Division; Bodey J; 31 January 2008)
Ordering a local authority to pay the entire cost of a residential assessment agreed by the authority to be in the child's best interests, notwithstanding that the authority had a deficit budget, the court noted that there was an urgent need for further consideration of the funding of necessary residential assessments. Some arrangements needed to be put in place to avoid the need for costly hearings of this sort on a routine basis. It was unsatisfactory if not invidious that courts charged with taking serious and sensitive decisions about children should have to choose between (a) overburdening an already over-stretched local authority or (b) denying a residential assessment to a parent for whom it represented the only hope of avoiding the loss of his or her child to adoption. The case amply justified the opposition of the Family Justice Council to the amendments recently made to the Funding Guidance, in particular the change that meant that the court could no longer direct a sharing of the costs of a residential assessment such as to achieve a contribution from the Legal Services Commission.