When Devon County Council put forward its proposals for funding elderly care, a number of care homes considered that the amount of finance being provided per person was so inadequate that they mounted a legal challenge.
The care homes applied for a judicial review of the decision, claiming that it would force the closure of care homes and took insufficient account of the needs of vulnerable people.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission intervened in the proceedings and the court ruled that a public authority must have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and advance equality of opportunity between those who have a protected characteristic and those who do not. In addition, a public authority must ‘foster good relations’ between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it. It ruled that the Council had breached this duty, particularly in regard to the impact of proposed care home closures.
The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against anyone with a protected characteristic. There are nine protected characteristics covered by the Act, including age and disability.
The Council is set to appeal against the court’s decision on the ground that it would result in an ‘excessive, costly and unreasonable layer of bureaucracy on all local authorities that will divert millions of pounds away from the care of vulnerable people’.