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20 JUL 2012

R (Siwak) v Newham LBC [2012] EWHC 1520 (Admin)

Local government - funding - equalities duties - consultation - lack of a formal decision

Although public authorities have a duty to consider the impact of a proposed policy, where a formal decision had not yet been taken the duty did not arise. In the present case, a local authority was in the process of considering how advice services were to be provided and had not taken a decision as to the provision of such services. Courts should avoid micro-managing the activities of local authorities.

1 June 2012

Administrative Court

Cranston J

(1) Mrs Siwak (S) sought to challenge by way of judicial review a decision of Newham LBC (N) in relation to the provision of advice services. The decision related to the shape of future advice services in Newham, which meant that advice services would be provided by local authority officers and would not include, as previously, any advice from the voluntary sector. In 2008, a three-year contract had been awarded by N to an advice consortium consisting of eight voluntary sector groups. The contract expired and the N established an Information Advice and Guidance (IAG) project to consider the long-term provision of advice services. The IAG adopted a three-tier system. Tier 3 was for problem-solving advice. However, the scope of Tier 3 could not be agreed. To overcome the impasse, the matter was referred to the mayor in cabinet. There was a meeting on 17 November 2011 and a report was prepared, with an accompanying draft Equality Impact Assessment (EIA). It was decided that the service delivery model for one-to-one problem solving would be developed, including the three-tiered service would be developed including Tier 3, which would not include a role for the voluntary sector.

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