SOCIAL SECURITY — Welfare — Assessment of needs — Duty of local authority to assess community care needs with view to provision of accommodation and support services to claimant — Local authority deciding not to conduct assessment — Whether claimant person who “may be in need of any such services” — Whether duty of assessment arising — National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990 ( c 19), s 47(1)
Regina (NM) v Islington Borough Council
 EWHC 414 (Admin);  WLR (D) 52
QBD: Sales J: 29 February 2012
When considering whether a duty of assessment of needs for community care services had arisen under section 47(1) of the National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990 the interpretation of the words “may be in need of any such services” covered both cases of present need and a narrow penumbra of cases of reasonably predictable future need.
Sales J so held, sitting in the Administrative Court of the Queen’s Bench Division, when dismissing the claimant’s claim for judicial review of a decision by the social services department of the defendant local authority, Islington Borough Council, not to conduct an assessment of the claimant’s needs under section 47 of the 1990 Act with a view to provision of accommodation and support services if he was released from prison. Northamptonshire County Council and the Parole Board were joined as interested parties.
SALES J said that the claimant was a “person for whom [the defendant] may provide or arrange for the provision of community care services” within the meaning of section 47(1). The critical question was whether the claimant was the person who “may be in need of any such services” within the meaning of that phrase in section 47(1). On a proper interpretation of that phrase, to bring himself within the scope of the section it was necessary for a claimant to show that there was a sufficiently concrete and likely prospect of him being in a position where community care services might need to be provided to him if he had relevant needs which would require to be met by the provision of such services. However, in a number of situations, such as release from mental hospital, discharge from hospital and release from prison, it might be sufficiently clear that a person was likely in the very near future to be present in the area of the local authority, and when they were, might then be in need of community care services, so that the obligation of assessment under section 47(1)(a) arose before the person actually arrived. In the present case the connection between the proposed consideration by the Parole Board and the release of the claimant to go to the defendant local authority was too conditional and speculative to fall within the narrow class of future provision cases covered by section 47(1).
Appearances: Felicity Williams (instructed by TV Edwards LLP) for the claimant; Bryan McGuire QC (instructed by Islington Legal Services) for the defendant; Ranjit Bhose (instructed by Northamptonshire Legal Services) for the first interested party; the second interested party did not appear and was not represented.
Reported by: Celia Fox, Barrister
© 2012. The Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England and Wales.