Children and Families Bill

Memorandum submitted by Interface Parent Carers (CF 110)

We strongly support the request for easily available Tribunal Statistics by Local Authority and by outcome.

We are a Parent Forum like the Forum in Merton that has raised this issue with the Committee.

We know this is an issue for some families.

As well as the stress involved, it is not right that families should have to spend money on assessments and lawyers (for example for a Statutory Assessment request) when the Local Authority gives in a week or a day before or on the day of the Tribunal. It is hugely stressful, scary and is a huge disincentive especially for families whose first language is not English or who are not confident dealing with bureaucracy.

It seems to reflect policies of the LA that they will not give in or consider certain issues. The same applies to Statement Language, access to schools and so on. The LA just draws a line and says take us to Tribunal. Against this background mediation is no good even it it was of good quality (which it does not seem to be).

Those families who have to go to Tribunal (which we do not want to have to do) find them wasteful of time and resources (as what we want is usually common sense). They also come at enormous cost (financial and our health).

Additionally in the past in our LA area (and we know others) no one got Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) into Part 3 without going to Tribunal (no matter how strong the case). The LA fought all cases until it became ridiculously embarrassing as they lost the lot. No SLT had been forthcoming from health (no early intervention) and the children needed it for their development/learning/outcomes. The children had already lost out on critical early intervention and time was of the essence. One would hope that the new duty on health (and EHC Plans) will prevent this happening in future, for SLT and for other critical therapies.

The requirement should also apply to Tribunal Disability Discrimination Cases looking at families who withdraw. In those cases the LAs appoint top barristers for the schools which means parent carers cannot afford financially or emotionally to continue. This is unfair and a lack of justice especially for BME families.

April 2013

Prepared 26th April 2013