31 MAY 2016
M and A v London Borough of Islington  EWHC 332 (Admin)
Community Care - Rehousing - Disability
Section 27 of the Children Act 1989—which conferred a duty upon local authorities to co-operate in relation to the provision of services for children—related to co-operation between different local authorities, not merely co-operation between different departments with a sole authority. Nonetheless, section 27 applied indirectly to departments within same authority, thus there is a similar requirement of co-operation in that context.
25 February 2016
1. The Claimants were two severely autistic children, aged 9 and 10, who lived in local authority housing with their mothers. The children required close supervision and were without a sense of danger. Their bedrooms were on the first floor and there was a risk they would jump out of the windows. The Claimant therefore requested properties with ground-floor bedrooms.
2. The local authority denied this request as it was not urgent and could be otherwise safely managed. The Claimants sought judicial review of the Defendant local authority's decision not to rehouse them.
3. It was argued by the Claimant’s that the section 27 requirement under the Children Act 1989 could apply to different departments within a sole local authority and that, in this instance, the local authority's system feel short of section 27 as there was no input from social services concerning the relevant decision at the centre of this case.
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4. The application was refused.
5. The ordinary meaning section 27 indicated that it was aimed at co-operation between different authorities. It could be be assumed that Parliament contemplated that unitary authorities, by there very nature, would ensure that there was the co-operation between different departments and that a statutory provision would be superfluous (R. v Tower Hamlets LBC Ex p. Byas (1993) 25 H.L.R. 105 considered and R. (on the application of C) v Hackney LBC  EWHC 3670 (Admin),  P.T.S.R. 1011 applied). Nevertheless, it was unnecessary for the Claimants to argue that section 27 applied to different departments within a unitary authority: the government's guidance, Working Together to Safeguard Children, should be read to require that the same degree of co-operation between departments in a unitary authority was given as would be required by section 27 between different authorities. Thus, whilst section 27 did not apply directly, its requirements were to be applied indirectly.
6. It was apparent that the decision in this case involved all relevant professionals, and it was open to any relevant person to raise concerns. The system of the Defendant this complied with section 27. The decision was thus lawful.
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