Thousands watch as Luke Davey takes the battle against Tory disability cuts to Court of Appeal
by Felicity Collier at the Royal Courts of Justice
A LANDMARK case aiming to turn back Tory care cuts reached the Court of Appeal yesterday.
Luke Davey, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair and is registered blind, is fighting Oxfordshire County Council’s decision to slash his care package by 42 per cent, saying the council was in breach of the 2014 Care Act, as well as threatening his physical and mental well-being.
The case will be closely watched by thousands of disabled people across Britain who could see cuts to their own care budgets restored. Campaigners staged a protest outside the Royal Courts of Justice in support of Mr Davey.
Supporters from Disabled People Against Cuts and charity Inclusion London, which is bringing the case on behalf of Mr Davey, packed the courtroom, forcing the hearing to be moved to a bigger room.
Inclusion London CEO Tracey Lazard told the crowd outside: “Luke has had his care package cut to the bone.
“Today is vital to Luke and hundreds and thousands of other disabled people dependent on the Care Act.
“The Care Act is meant to protect our well-being and our choice and control — it’s vital that this legislation is honoured, as well as our rights.”
Mr Davey received round-the-clock care until 2015, when the independent living fund (ILF) was abolished and the local council had to take sole responsibility for care funding, seeing his total weekly budget slashed from £1,651 — £730 provided by the ILF — to just £950.
It meant that his care was cut to 18 hours a day and he was no longer able to go to college or do charity work.
Mr Davey has had essentially the same team of carers for the last 20 years, but some were now considering leaving as he has been forced to cut their pay and hours because of the shortfall.
His lawyer Jamie Burton told the court that this breached the Care Act, presenting “signifi cant risks to his mental health,” including increased anxiety through “spending too much time alone.”
Mr Davey’s mother Jasmine, who is 76 and has cancer, was having to plug the shortfall to up the number of hours to 20, the court heard.
The council “didn’t ask about consequences,” said Mr Burton, and while it did not say that it could not “afford” the care team, it just “didn’t believe the care team would break up.”
Mr Davey lives in a remote and rural part of Oxfordshire and staff are no longer receiving petrol money.
A High Court judge had earlier upheld the council’s view that an £8.50 per hour wage was the going rate for carers in the borough.
Mr Burton said: “His carers persistently say they can’t cut their income any further and keep their jobs.”
The court heard how the local authority thought it was better for him to have a new team — perhaps a live-in team — and said it poses no risks to his health to change the team.
Mr Burton told the court that Mr Davey had “made it abundantly clear that he wanted his team to stay in place,” and he deemed that the council’s conclusion was not only “incompatible” but a breach of the Care Act.
DPAC co-founder Linda Burnip told the Star: “It’s a really, really important case.
“It’s vital for disabled people that we win the case.
“We’re being inundated every day because people have had their care packages cut.”