Two particular measures were under challenge. The first was the introduction of maximum weekly caps on the amount of local housing allowance (LHA). The second was the reduction of the maximum size in accommodation eligible for housing benefit from five bedrooms to four bedrooms.
R (JG and MB ) v. Lancashire County Council  EWHC 2295 (Admin) – read judgment here.
Public sector cuts are back in the news, with the trade unions warning of their plans to stage the biggest series of strikes in a generation. However, attempts to take the fight against the cuts into the courts as well as onto the streets were dealt a serious blow recently, as the Administrative dismissed an application by two disabled women for judicial review of Lancashire County Council’s decision to significantly reduce their budget for adult social care services.
This case provides a very helpful summary of the courts’ approach to public bodies’ equality duties (now the new general Public Sector Equality Duty in s.149 of the Equality Act 2010). It is also a reminder that the courts are reluctant to interfere with difficult social or economic decisions made by elected officials, as long as there has been proper consideration of the relevant factors, despite other recent cases where such decisions have been struck down.
Rahman, R (on the application of Birmingham City Council)  EWHC 944 (Admin) (31st March 2011) – read judgment
The Prime Minister recently called upon immigrant communities to integrate more fully in British Society, criticising in particular those who fail to learn English.
But three longstanding residents of Birmingham who communicate poorly in English and rely upon legal entitlement advice centres to provide services in their mother tongue, have successfully argued that the Defendant Council unlawfully failed to discharge its Public Sector Equality Duty in ceasing to fund the centres. Two further Claimants, with disabilities, also succeeded in their challenge to the Council’s decision to cease funding another centre that was providing free assistance in welfare benefit appeals.
It is important to understand the basis on which individuals can challenge decisions that affect them, why unelected judges have the power to alter decisions of elected officials, and how public authorities can avoid being vulnerable to successful challenges in future. The key is accountability.
Updated The High Court has ruled that the Legal Service Commission’s legal aid tender process was “unfair, unlawful and irrational”. The decision came in a judicial review of the tender brought by the Law Society.
Updated 27 Aug (17:15) |A High Court judge has branded the Legal Service Commission’s recent and highly controversial tender for legal aid work as a “dreadful” and potentially irrational decision.
The comments of Mr Justice Collins came in a permission hearing (i.e., only the first stage of a two-part process) on the application by the Community Law Partnership to judicially review the LSC’s recent tender, and specifically the rejection of CLP’s own application. It appears from a Law Society Gazette article that the hearing was adjourned, with the judge warning the LSC to consider its position carefully, and that if it fights and loses the decision could set a dangerous precedent. The hearing is to resume in around a week and a half.
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