R (KG and BG) v Suffolk County Council [2022] EWCA Civ 1047

28 Jul 2022

The Care Act 2014 brought in a new focus on meeting a person’s needs for care and support rather than providing them with services.

The previous legislation referred to “care and assistance”, rather than “care and support” – what is the effect of that shift?

In R (KG and BG) v Suffolk County Council [2022] EWCA Civ 1047, the Court of Appeal considered that question and agreed that “support” adds something to “care”. In an important and wide-ranging judgment, the Court of Appeal held that “care and support” is not limited to “looked-after needs”. Giving the leading judgment of the Court, Lady Justice Nicola Davies said

In my judgement, the needs under the CA 2014 can no longer be described as “looked-after” needs as such a description does not properly reflect the individual nature of the assessment, its recognition of the autonomy of the individual and the tailored and broad nature of the support which can be provided.

Further, and consistent with the greater emphasis placed upon the autonomy of the individual linked to well-being and support, I read the intention of the legislation as being to broaden the discretion and flexibility of local authorities in their provision of care and support to adults.

KG and BG, two autistic brothers, had needs to take part in recreational activities which arose from their physical and mental impairments. Suffolk had previously paid for them to have family holidays and to access leisure. This had been withdrawn when Suffolk decided that they did not have the power to pay for this.

The Court of Appeal has now confirmed that local authorities do have the power to support disabled people by paying for them to access recreation and leisure facilities:

I do not accept that it is possible to use recreational facilities merely by the provision of support to access the facility if the adult in question cannot afford to pay for the entry requirements.

This judgment emphasises that a local authority should be flexible in meeting the needs of people in their area who need support, not merely looking after them, but promoting their autonomy and well-being:

The core purpose of this provision of adult social care and support as set out in the CA 2014 is to help individuals to achieve outcomes which matter to them in the life they lead.

Catherine Rowlands, led by David Wolfe QC, and instructed by Karen May of Bindmans LLP, appeared for the successful Claimants/Respondents. Lee Parkhill, led by Andrew Sharland QC, represented Suffolk County Council