COVID-19: Legal challenge raised to the Department of Education’s guidance for children’s social care services

Date: 1st May 2020
Category: Basic Health and Welfare, Civil Rights and Freedoms, Education, Leisure and Cultural Activities, Family Environment and Alternative Care, General measures of implementation, General principles

The University College London’s Integrated Legal Advice Clinic has launched a legal challenge regarding the recent COVID-19 guidance issued by the Department for Education which allows local authorities to depart from the usual statutory duties owed by children’s social services.

The guidance is being challenged on the basis that elements breach the Equality Act 2010, that it fails to consider the best interests of the children affected by the guidance and it permits unlawful acts because it allows local authorities to not comply with their statutory duties without any legal basis.

The Integrated Legal Advice Clinic has been instructed on behalf of two individuals, one a care leaver facing imminent homelessness and the other with a child who has significant learning difficulties and autism, who relies on social care support provided by a local authority. Relaxing these duties place the welfare of many other vulnerable children who are reliant upon the usual statutory duties owed by children’s social services.

UK Government has been asked to withdraw the guidance immediately and ensure any new guidance published is lawful.