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LOCAL AUTHORITY: R (LH) v Lambeth London Borough Council [2006] EWHC 1190 (Admin)

Date:25 MAY 2006

(Queens Bench Division (Admin); Crane J; 25 May 2006)

The 10-year old child had autism, moderate learning difficulties, severe epilepsy and asthma and chronic long-term constipation. There were significant behavioural difficulties, and the mother alerted the local authority to her own inability to cope with the growing child. She requested an assessment under the Children Act 1989, an assessment of her own needs as carer, completion of the special educational needs review process and urgent consideration of a residential placement. A draft core assessment and a long-term care plan were produced, both recommending that the child be educated at a boarding school. However, after further consideration, the authority refused to fund such a placement, concluding that a residential placement was not necessary, and that strategies should be put in place to assist the family. The core assessment and long-term care plan were revised accordingly. The mother sought judicial review of the authority's decision.

The new core assessment was open to criticisms for not concentrating on the child's needs, as distinct from the production of a care plan in the light of those needs. There was also a failure to identify clearly the needs to be met in the case of the carer's assessment, which were the mother's needs. The conclusion that a so-called package of support, much of which remained to be identified, was to be preferred to a residential placement was seriously flawed and, particularly in the light of a year of fitful attention to the central problem, irrational. The local authority was in breach of its assessment obligations.