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Government To Appear In “Landmark Court Case” To Avoid Revealing Social Care Data

Two Government departments are set to appear in court against the Information Commissioner (ICO) in an attempt to dismiss requests from the ICO to reveal critical information around government funding for adult social care. The hearing in the Information Tribunal will take place on 29th April.

The litigation derives from Freedom of Information requests made by specialist legal rights charity, Access Social Care (ASC) to reveal data available to and used by policymakers in relation to decision making on social care funding. HM Treasury and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities denied the requests. Their decisions were overturned by the Information Commissioner in July 2023, who ruled that disclosure was in the public interest and outweighs the argument from HM Treasury and DLUHC that it should be exempt as it is live government policy. Now, the Government is appealing the decision in the Information Tribunal.

The ICO will be represented in the case by John Fitzsimons of Cornerstone Barristers, while Access Social Care will be represented by Niamh Grahame of Public Law Project and Stephen Cragg KC of Doughty Street Chambers. HM Treasury and DLUHC will be represented by Laura Shepherd of 30 Park Place.

Access Social Care’s CEO, Kari Gerstheimer, said:

“The social care sector, including public bodies, charitable and commercial organisations, are all aligned that social care is critically underfunded. Government’s position is that social care is adequately funded but they are refusing to reveal their maths.

For two years, two government departments have refused to share this information, despite the Information Commissioner stating that sharing is in the public interest.

Access Social Care is a data led legal rights organisation that exists to make sure people can access the social care they have a right to. Through our casework and our data, we see that everyday older and disabled people are denied the social care they need and have a right to. This case strikes to the heart of the need for government transparency to enable good quality public decision making.

In fighting for this information, ASC is trying to reveal and understand the decision-making that guides social care, and how it can be improved. Having information about social care funding allocations would shed light on whether the government is considering relevant factors, for which they have a public law duty, and critically would provide civil society organisations a much-needed opportunity to play a meaningful part in driving improvement of central government decision making.

We are a small organisation challenging two government departments on behalf of disabled people , older people and carers to make sure that central government adequately funds adult social care so that we all get the social care we need and have a right to.”

 

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